All good things must come to an end.
BUT NOT TONIGHT!
The Astros did not lead in this game. Not until THE VERY LAST PITCH.
With one out, bases loaded, bottom of the ninth, game on the line, Alex Bregman stood at bat. He’s been there before, on a bigger stage than this. Game 5 World Series, runner on second, 10th inning, score tied. We know what he did.
This ain’t nothin but a thang.
Another good breaking ball, outside, another poke of the bat. This time an even more solid barrel. This ball launched to deep left center.
But before Bregman could claim credit for the double, the game was over. All that matters on his box score tonight is not the part that says 1-5, it’s the part under the RBI column. There stands the number 2.
The two runs that brought the Astros from down 4 to 3, to winners of their 12th straight game, 5-4.
Who says the Astros don’t win one run games. Take that Seattle!
It really looked at the outset that this was the game in which the Astros streak would end. Starting pitcher Gerrit Cole, so dominant all year, and so utterly consistent in his dominance, was just not on his game. It happens to the best pitchers from time to time.
In the first inning he gave up a walk, and then a home run to Wilson Ramos. In the third he lost all command, walking three in a row, and then giving up a two run single to Joey Wendle. It seemed he was destined for an early shower.
But from the fourth inning until his departure in the seventh it was like the true spirit of Gerrit Cole repossessed his body, and he was dominant again. He did what every coach says; he didn’t quit, he pitched through it. And he kept his team in the game. Tonight Gerrit Cole showed great character.
Meanwhile the Astros nibbled.
In the fourth Altuve eked out an infield single, Correa hit him to third on a double that should have been a single except for great hustle. Yuli Gurriel got his first of two RBI with an infield single, scoring Altuve, and Josh Reddick got Correa home with a sac fly.
In the 6th inning Gurriel got his second RBI with a single which plated Altuve, who had reached on a triple.
Still, destiny seemed to favor the Rays tonight, especially after a disappointing eighth inning, Altuve, who was 3-4 with 2 runs scored, opened the frame with a single, and with one out was able to get to third on a steal and a wild throw. But Mr. Clutch, Yuli Gurriel, who is 13-26 with runners in scoring position, popped up, and one of the heroes from yesterday’s game, Tyler White, grounded out, stranding the tying run.
But the Rays, who used a revolving door of relief pitchers tonight, brought in their seventh pitcher, Sergio Romo, to stop the Astros in the bottom of the ninth.
He walked lead-off hitter Marwin Gonzalez. Max Stassi followed with a solid single to left field. Mr. Legit, Tony Kemp bunted both runners into scoring position. Following the catcher’s interference that put George Springer on first, Alex Bregman had his big hit that scored Stassi with the winning run.
Twelve straight and running.
After Cole’s departure, Will Harris and Collin McHugh pitched scoreless eighth and ninth innings respectively. McHugh got the win. It has been six games since the Astros bullpen has allowed a run. Remember that when something goes wrong. It will someday.
BUT NOT TONIGHT.
A few oddities. Gerrit Cole walked five tonight, a career high.
At one point that Astros had a fielding alignment of Tyler White at first, Yuli Gurriel at third, Alex Bregman in left, Tony Kemp in center, and Marwin Gonzalez in right. Good thing Will Harris had two k’s that inning.
Tuesday the Astros and Rays compete again at Minute Maid Park at 7:10 CDT. Justin Verlander faces Jake Snell
Box Score and videos here.