Well, we were just about to write the same sad tune as last night’s game... The pitching was good enough, the bullpen was solid, but the bats once again were silent. Then, all of a sudden, the Houston Astros offense woke up in the top of the 8th inning.
Josh Reddick, who has actually not seen too much of a disparity in his righty-lefty splits so far this season, notched a double against Angels left-hander Jose Alvarez in the 8th inning to set the table. Then, pinch hitting Piña slapped a single to right field to put runners on the corners.
After a weak plate appearance by George Springer, Alex Bregman won the battle of the game as the young Astros third baseman worked his way back from an 0-2 count to walk and load the bases for Jose Altuve. Over the course of franchise history, there haven’t been many hitters who you would just expect to get a hit in this situation. Fortunately for the Astros, they have one of the few exceptions in Jose Altuve and the Astros great knocked a definite ball into the left field corner for a bases-clearing double.
This is the pitch that Altuve just doubled on to clear the bases... pic.twitter.com/tRH622i0z7— Daren Willman (@darenw) May 16, 2018
Altuve’s uncanny ability to hit pitches that certainly do even not look like strikes into the outfield has been unbelievable throughout his career, and tonight it was the difference in the game. Earlier this week, Crawfish Boxes writer Jason Marbach wrote a brilliant article addressing the concerns in Altuve’s advanced metrics so far this season, noticing that Altuve’s contact percentage on pitches out of the zone has decreased over the last four years. Well, tonight, he definitely helped himself slowly climb back to his career average.
From there, the Angels forgot how to field ground balls in the ninth inning and the Astros were able to tack on an insurance run. Ken Giles worked around a single from Albert Pujols in the bottom of the ninth inning and the Astros held on to win by a score of 5-3.
Of course, the Cole Train kept rolling on tonight with seven strikeouts in five innings of work. Surrendering three earned runs in five innings was a disastrous appearance for Cole by his 2018 standards, but overall not a terrible day. The Angels have an impressive lineup and are very difficult to beat in Los Angeles.
Tomorrow night, the Astros will look to build off this momentum and win the series out west behind their ace, Justin Verlander.