Lance McCullers Jr. had his best start of the season as the Astros offense struggled to put runs on the board against Matt Shoemaker. McCullers seemed to have all of his pitches working as he racked up 8 strikeouts over 6.2 innings.
It looked like McCullers would make it through 7 innings, having struck out Albert Pujols and caught C.J. Cron’s pop up to start the inning. But with 2 outs and no one on, he appeared to be getting weary as he walked Andrelton Simmons and Cameron Maybin to put 2 men on.
A.J. Hinch decided it was Dragon Time, so he took the ball from McCullers and handed it to Chris Devenski. Devo did what Devo does and struck out Danny Espinosa on 3 pitches to strand the runners and preserve the 2-0 lead. The final line for Batman was 6.2 IP, 0 R, 3H, 3BB, 8K.
Carlos Beltran got the scoring started for the Astros with a solo HR in the bottom of the 1st, his first HR of 2017 and first as an Astro since the 2004 playoffs. Matt Shoemaker cruised through most of his outing, giving up only 2 more hits after Beltran’s HR.
One of those hits was a double by Alex Bregman, who has been driving the ball more recently, but the Astros weren’t able to bring him home in the 2nd. The other hit came in the 5th as Jake Marisnick hit a line drive home run to the Crawford Boxes, his second homer of the season. Who says Marisnick can’t hit? Jake’s wRC+ was a team-leading 194 prior to the game and he wanted to make sure he retained that title.
Devenski came back out for the 8th and pitched a perfect inning, needing only 11 more pitches to induce 2 groundouts and a strikeout. The 9th inning was when things got interestiing.
Devo was asked to finish the game and faced Mike Trout to start the 9th. After getting ahead 0-2, Trout drilled a home run to left field to cut the deficit in half (2-1). After Pujols flied out, C.J. Cron singled on a line drive to left. Devo was able to induce a ground ball off the bat of Andrelton Simmons, but instead of a double play it went up the middle for a single.
With Cliff Pennington pinch-running for C.J. Cron, the Angels successfully executed a double steal. Suddenly the Angels had the go-ahead run in scoring position and it looked like Devenski might be mortal after all.
Activate Dragon Mode: Engage Change-Up of Death
Chris Devenski was not to be denied his first save of the season. Cameron Maybin went down swinging and the Angels were down to their final out. After getting ahead of Danny Espinosa, 1-2, Devenski tried to get him to chase with two high fastballs. Espinosa didn’t offer at either and ran the count full.
Devo then threw a changeup and well... you can guess what happened. Espinosa did what so many other batters before him have done and struck out swinging at Devo’s changeup.
Most Wins in MLB
Ladies and Gentlemen, your Houston Astros now sit atop not only the AL West, not only the AL, but the entire MLB. No other team has 11 wins. After the horrendous start to 2016, it sure feels good (and somewhat deserved) to get things started this well in 2017. Let us enjoy this ride for as long as it lasts... and may it last all the way through the beginning of November.