Runners on first and second, one out. Score tied one to one. A situation where Astros hitters seem to have fallen short so often this year. A situation in which Astros hitters had already gotten doubled up three times previously in the game. And to bat, the number nine hitter, a black hole in the Astros line up all year. Another inning of 0 for risp seemed inevitible.
But to the plate came a fresh face, just up from AAA, a rookie face, but a face of confidence and professionalism, seemingly the face of an old pro. Tony Kemp calmly proceeded to do what the nine hole has so seldom done this year, he made contact with the ball. He hit it right down the right field line like a rope, and he drove in what turned out to be the game’s winning run. And then he planted himself on second base like he belonged there.
Kemp ended up 2-3, and is hitting .500 since his call-up on Wednesday.
As it turned out it was all the Astros would need.
Charlie Morton made it easy on the Houston bats, adding to the growing legend that is the Houston Astros pitching staff, 2018. He completed seven innings, getting 8 strike outs, allowing four hits and one walk. The only blemish on his performance was a seventh inning solo home run by Edwin Encarnacion. It was the 66th home run hit by the Indians this year, leading the major leagues.
Morton’s ERA, third in the AL as of Wednesday, dropped to 1.94 for the year. He is now 6-0 for the year. It is the Astros’ 8th win in the last 10 games
The scoring began in the third inning with a Crawford Boxes home run by George Springer, exit velocity 90 MPH, which traveled only 369 feet. It counts.
After the Kemp double in the seventh the Astros added another run on the legs of speedy Derek Fisher. Standing on third after Kemp’s double, he took off for home on a George Springer ground ball, just beating the throw home. Upon umpire review the call was upheld.
The Astros would add an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth with a sac fly by pinch hitter Evan Gattis.
The Indians gave the full house at Minute Maid Park something to be nervous about in the eighth. Chris Devenski started smoothly, using his lethal circle of death change up to retire the first two batters he faced. But two cheap hits, followed by a base on balls loaded the bases. But he induced a weak pop up from Francisco Lindor to end the threat and the inning.
Ken Giles recorded the save with a scoreless ninth.
If the Astros pitching staff finished the season with their current statistics in the categories of ERA, ERA+, opponent average, WHIP and K/9, they would enter the record books leading all-time in each of these categories.
Tomorrow’s game is at 3:10 CDT. Corey Kluber faces Dallas Keuchel.
Box score here