Football season is now officially in full swing, but the Astros made sure Sunday's game wouldn't be completely lost in the shuffle with some 9th inning heroics. Or an equally impressive choke job by the back end of the Oakland bullpen. Either way you want to look at it, the Astros flipped the script that we've seen way too many times this season by breaking through against the A's in the 9th inning to take the game and the series. Oh and the win also happened to be Houston's 63rd on the season, guaranteeing that the Astros will not lose 100 games for a 4th straight season with 19 games left to be played. Also, Mattress Mack owes a lot of people their money back. Big day for Houstonians everywhere. Let's take a look at how Sunday's game played out:
Dallas Keuchel and Jason Hammell each held the offenses at bay in the early ongoing. The Astros only mustered 3 baserunners through the first 6 innings of play. The A's only managed 2 baserunners through the first 5 innings, but were able to break through for the game's first run in the 6th, as Derek Norris hit a sharp grounder to the right side that Jose Altuve was able to snag on a nice diving play to his left to keep on the infield and get the out at first.
The Astros came right back in the top of the 7th. Chris Carter just missed homerun #37 to lead off the inning, blasting a double off the wall in right center. After a Jason Castro walk and a Marwin Gonzalez sac bunt, Jon Singleton returned the favor with an RBI groundout to the right side. Gregorio Petit followed with a single up the middle on the first pitch he saw to give the Astros a 2-1 lead.
Keuchel ran into trouble in the bottom of the 7th, giving up a leadoff 0-2 single to Jed Lowrie. Not to be outdone, another former Astro (kinda sorta), Nate Freiman, followed with a homerun to left to put the A's back up 3-2.
Flash forward to the top of the 9th, when the wheels fell off for Oakland relievers. Ryan Cook walked Gonzalez on 4 pitches to lead off the frame. After getting Singleton to pop out, Cook would walk Marc Krauss on 4 pitches too. He managed to get a few strikes over to Robbie Grossman, but would walk him to load the bases before being pulled in favor of yet another former Astro, Fernando Abad. Jake Marisnick hit a deep sac fly to right to tie the game at 3. Abad liked what he saw from Cook and walked Jose Altuve (this one was intentional though) to load the bases again for Dexter Fowler. You might be noticing a trend here. Fowler drove in the winning run with a 2 out....yup you guessed it...walk to put the Astros on top 4-3.
Tony Sipp and Josh Fields would combine to close the door in the 9th, No Qualls this time around, who probably did well to get a mental break from facing Oakland in high leverage situations.
Keuchel: 6.2 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, BB, 3 K
Bullpen (Veras/Sipp/Fields): 2.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 6 K, 0 Qualls (to be fair, I have nothing against Qualls at all, but it was nice to close out a game against Oakland)
The race to .500 is officially on. 18-1 to close the season is all it would take. Hey it could happen.