Fourteen innings of hope dashed.
That was a brutal game to follow as Houston looked to have an early lead but slowly let things fall apart. Then, the Astros couldn't buy a hit late in the game, meaning the inevitable Tigers extra-inning win was extra painful.
Thursday, Houston could have ridden a good starting performance from recently called up Jordan Lyles and a pair of home runs by Jason Castro and Carlos Pena to a series-opening victory over the Tigers.
Lyles was good, allowing six hits and two runs while walking one and striking out six. Both Tiger runs came across in the top of the third, as Torii Hunter and Miguel Cabrera had back-to-back RBI singles to tie the score at 2-2. Lyles only needed 79 pitches to get through the five innings, but likely was limited due to the tandem starter effect from OKC.
Seven different relievers entered the game at that point, with Travis Blackley, Paul Clemens and Hector Ambriz making it through unscathed before Wesley Wright gave up the game-tying single to Victor Martinez. Prince Fielder scored after Rick Ankiel was given a fielding error picking up Martinez' line drive single to right.
That should endear Ankiel to this fan base.
Jose Veras struck out all seven batters he faced before Dallas Keuchel came in.
Oh, Dallas. You deserved better than this. Keuchel came up from Triple-A along with Keuchel and pitched his heart out. He kept going and going and going. He threw 4 1/3 innings and 78 pitches, one less than starter Lyles did. Still, he picked up the loss.
It's a tight rope pitching in extras, because any run could mean the end of the game. So, Keuchel fired three scoreless innings, skating out of jams in both the 12th and the 13th before giving it up in his final inning of work. While Jose Cisnero may have given up the hits that sunk the game, it was lost as soon as Detroit got a runner to third with one out in the 14th.
It's a shame, too, because so much went right early for Houston.
Castro gave Houston a quick two-run lead in the bottom of the first with a home run that scored Robbie Grossman. Castro finished the night 1 for 6 with a strikeout. Grossman was 2 for 5 with a walk and a run scored. Pena was 2 for 6 with his solo shot while Rick Ankiel was 1 for 2 after entering the game as a defensive replacement in right field.
The interesting question moving forward will be how Houston's staff gets used in the rest of the series. One game just put a heavy load on the bullpen, so Houston could really use a deep start in the next two games from its starters, if that's even possible any more.