Colby Rasmus has done it again: his second straight game with a huge, high leverage home run. Call him Stevie Ray Rasmus, call him the Settler, call him Amish Paradise, call him Colby Jack, pick a 1990s wrestler, call him anything you want...just don't call him late for dinner. Because he is absolutely feasting on opposing pitching recently. In fact, he has 19 home runs in his last 49 games. That's a 63 home run pace in 162 games, for those who left their slide rules at home.
Nothing about the game began promisingly at all for the Astros. Scott Feldman got the start and was undeniably very, very bad in this game. The Astros defense was no better early, with Jose Altuve making two errors and Carlos Correa making an error as well. All three errors - as well as the bad pitching - led to five Red Sox runs in the first three innings.
Mookie Betts led off the game with a single, Dustin Pedroia doubled, David Ortiz drew a one out intentional walk, Hanley Ramirez hit into an RBI force play that was reviewed and overturned, resulting in Altuve's first error. Then Travis Shaw drew a bases loaded walk to force in the second run. Brock Holt completed the scoring in the horrendous top half of the first inning with a sacrifice fly to center field that plated David Ortiz from third. Just like that, the Red Sox were ahead by three runs.
Marwin Gonzalez hit his first home run of the season in the bottom half of the second inning - a solo shot, for a change - to cut the lead to two runs before Boston rattled off a pair of RBI doubles in the top of the third to make the score 5-1, Red Sox.
Tyler White, who is certainly coming back to reality after his fast start, was able to lift a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the third to score George Springer from third, and Evan Gattis (who actually had himself a solid night, overall) singled in Carlos Correa to run the score to 5-3 in the game, where it would stay until the ninth inning.
After Jose Altuve and George Springer struck out to open the ninth against all-world super closer Craig Kimbrel, Carlos Correa belted a double off the right field wall. And then? Your favorite bearded, scruffy-looking nerf herder (and mine) did Baseball Jesus things:
Even considering that the stadium had significantly cleared out at that point, the fans that remained were still deafening. And when Luke Gregerson fielded a two-out come-backer and closed out the top of the tenth inning, it sounded like the roof might come right off of Minute Maid Park.
The Astros were, unfortunately, unable to score in extra innings, and Ken Giles had yet another rocky appearance as an Astro to earn the loss in the twelfth inning. The frustration (okay, vitriol) that exploded on Astros-related internet pages can be understood, but cooler heads should hopefully prevail among the fans in the knowledge that Giles was likely not historically dominant for a season and a half just to fall apart completely. The early struggles are just that - early struggles.
A few highlights from the box score: Jose Altuve had two hits, including a double, and stole two bases in an attempt to make up for his errors. Carlos Correa returned to form a bit with a single, a double, and a walk, but did strike out three times in the game. George Springer notched a double for his only hit, Carlos Gomez got off the schneid and got a single. In addition to the home run, Marwin Gonzalez had a single and three sparkling defensive plays at third base on the national stage. Evan Gattis had two knocks, including a double. Jason Castro even got in on the offense with a pair of walks.
Only three of the runs charged to Feldman were earned runs, so his ERA still sits at a quasi-respectable 4.58 right now, but it seems most Astros fans would agree that even considering sloppy defense behind him, he was not very good tonight. He'll look to rebound in his next start.
Chris Devenski was, once again, brilliant in relief. He pitched three and a third scoreless innings of three hit baseball against the highest scoring offense in the American League and allowed no walks while chalking up two strikeouts. Pat Neshek, Tony Sipp, and Luke Gregerson each worked scoreless outings, with Gregerson allowing just a hit with no walks and one strikeout in two full innings of work.
Also of note: after the game, it was announced on Twitter that the Astros have optioned Jake Marisnick to Triple-A Fresno and recalled right-hander Michael Feliz to join the over-taxed bullpen in Seattle while the Astros hope to get something - anything - of value consistently from their rotation.
The Astros now have to board a plane and fly to the upper-West coast after what was, in this writer's estimation, the team's most crushing loss since Game Four.