The Astros headed into game 162 with many possibilities still in play. If they won the game they had a chance to play for the division title. With all this on the line they sent rookie Lance McCullers to the hill to try for the sweep of the Diamondbacks.
It was a back-and-forth affair through much of the game. Airzona drew first blood against LMJ as A.J. Pollock drove a home run to dead center to take a quick 1-0 lead. The Astros came back to tie in the top of the third inning. Jose Altuve singled and scored on a double by George Springer. In the bottom of the fourth McCullers made some mistakes that got him in a bit of trouble. With one out he dropped the flip from Chris Carter while covering first for an error. The D-backs pitcher Robbie Ray lined a double down the third base line to put runners at second and third. Before the next pitch LMJ looked like he took a deep breath while on the rubber. The ump called a balk that allowed the runner to score from third.
The Astros loaded the bases in the fifth inning. Altuve got a hustling triple with one out. Then Springer was hit by a pitch, and Carlos Correa walked. Evan Gattis pinch-hit for Colby Rasmus and beat out a double play relay throw to allow Altuve to tie the game at two.
Another McCullers mistake cost a run in the bottom of the fifth. After a Paul Goldschmidt single, LMJ threw a wild pitch which allowed Goldy to go to second base. Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a ground-rule double to make the score 3-2. McCullers was done after the fifth, and ended up giving up six hits, including the one homer, and struck out six while walking two. He had his good moments, like a bases loaded K of Saltalamacchia, and it was good for the kid to get some playoff-type experience.
Houston tied it up in the seventh. Springer walked with two outs. On a Correa single to left, George didn't even slow down and took third base. While Jake Marisnick was batting, Arizona reliever Daniel Hudson threw a wild pitch that allowed Springer to tie the game at three. Correa went to third but the team couldn't bring him home.
The first 2-run lead of the game came in the bottom of the seventh. Chad Qualls allowed a single to Pollock. Pollock then stole second and went to third on a passed ball. Goldy worked the count to 3-2, and then Qualls challenged him with an 87 mph fastball up in the zone. It went where you thought it would go...deep to left to give 'Zona a 5-3 lead.
The Astros threatened in the top of the ninth. Luis Valbuena and Altuve had back-to-back singles to start the inning. Springer hit the ball hard but the second baseman was positioned perfectly to start the double play. So the team ended up taking the loss 5-3.
Now they will get ready to fly to NYC to face the Yankees in the Wild Card game. I know I speak for many who have followed this team through the last few awful years when I say making the playoffs heals a lot of that hurt. The team got a ticket to the dance for the first time in ten years, and now lets see where it takes them. I hope we get to see a lot more of this in the years to come.
It looks like Dallas Keuchel will get the ball in New York to face Masahiro Tanaka. Prepare yourself for Playoff Baseball Astros fans!
After a 19 game improvement in 2014, the Astros had a 16 game improvement this season to make the playoffs.
Jose Altuve became the first Astros player to have two 200 hit seasons. His single in the ninth was hit number 200.
WE GET TO WATCH THIS TEAM IN THE PLAYOFFS! WHAT FACT COULD BE MORE FUN???
Tweets of the Day
Would you expect any less?
This is hilarious. Team wearing Postseason t-shirts issued to them at last out. Colby Rasmus is running around shirtless.— Alyson Footer (@alysonfooter) October 4, 2015
This sums it up perfectly...
Now let's win this damn thing and have a home game, Astros.— Turk Behlmann (@DieselDugong) October 4, 2015