George Springer had an off night tonight, hitting 2-4 with a single and a game winning 2 RBI double. He made two outs, definitely slumping after his 6-6 performance Monday night.
Seriously, after a disappointing trip to Arizona, where the Astros lost two out of three, the Astros offense has risen again like a phoenix, scoring 16 runs on 20 hits on Monday, and coming back with 4 more tonight on 12 hits against one of the best pitchers in the majors thus far this season, Sean Manaea. Every Astros hitter had at least one base hit. And yes, by George, Springer had the big hit tonight, a two run double in the fourth inning that scored Brian McCann and Jake Marisnick, who had just doubled McCann to third
Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers did not have his best stuff or command tonight, but gutted out 5 innings, surrendering 2 runs, 4 walks, and punching out only 3.
In the first inning Marcus Semien, who got on base on a McCullers walk, eventually scored on a Lance wild pitch.
The Astros answered in the second with Alex Bregman’s 3rd home run, a solo opposite field shot to right field.
In the 3rd two sterling defensive plays kept McCullers and the Astros close. After a lead-off single to Marcus Semien, McCullers walked the next two batters, loading the bases with no outs. Dangerous DH, Kris Davis, then smacked a projectile to right field sending, yes, by George, Springer racing back. He reached up and across as far to the left as his body could stretch and barely snagged the rocket, allowing Semien to score on the sac fly, but saving two other runs. The inning ended when Jose Altuve scooped a grounder hit to the 1st base side of the second base position, threw hard to Carlos Correa, who then hurled a fastball straight into the mitt of 1st baseman Yuli Gurriel to complete a well executed and somewhat unlikely double play to end the inning and save at least another run.
The McCann, Marisnick, Springer trio would put the Stros up 3-2 in the top of the fifth, which would be all the runs that the Astros would need thanks to another defensive gem by jack of all trades Marwin Gonzalez. After a Bruce Maxwell double with no outs, Semien dribbled a grounder just past Carlos Correa into shallow left field. Maxwell hesitated to third, and the hustling left fielder Gonzalez flung a strike to third baseman Bregman, shortstop style, that took out Maxwell and wrecked the A’s rally.
After a Gurriel double, Gonzalez then finished the Astros scoring with an RBI single, his sixth in two nights.
Brad Peacock and Chris Devenski pitched perfectly in the 6th , 7th, and 8th innings, and Ken Giles closed the ninth, allowing one harmless single and earning his 4th save. Lance McCullers got the win. He is now 5-1. Manaea got the loss. He is 4-4.
The Astros have 20 runs and 32 hits in the last two games. George Springer’s batting average in those two games has increased from .264 to .297. His OPS is up almost 100 points to .871. Marwin Gonzalez’ OPS is up almost 50 points in those same two days.
And as Springer goes, by George, so go the Astros.
Tomorrow is the final game of the three game series. The Astros go for the sweep, sending the phenomenal Gerrit Cole (3-1, 1.42 ERA) against the Mustache, Daniel Mengden (2-3, 4.30 ERA) Game time 2:35 CDT.
Watch Marwin Gonzalez’ RBI single here
Box score here