Coming into tonight’s game, there were a few question marks about Charlie Morton due to his recent outings against Cleveland, New York, and Boston. In those three games, Morton was not as sharp as he was in his first two months of the season, but some attributed this decline to the rise in the level of the competition. Tonight, at least a few of us figured that Morton would bounce back against a weaker Rangers lineup, but that was unfortunately not the case.
The Rangers did not even hit Morton hard, the veteran right-hander just lost command of every pitch in his arsenal, walking six Rangers hitters in less than four innings of work while only allowing 1 hit and striking out four. After the game, Morton commented on his outing by saying that his start was, “bordering on embarrassing” (Jake Kaplan, The Athletic).
However, the Astros had to find a way to pull out this game tonight with the Mariners losing earlier in the day. Other guys out of the bullpen dug in and stepped up, including Brad Peacock, Tony Sipp, Chris Devenski, and Hector Rondon.
Sipp recorded all three of his outs via the strikeout before walking a batter and being pulled by A.J. Hinch. This was another strong performance by Sipp, who is off to a great start so far in 2018.
Tonight was another chance for Astros fans to see A.J. Hinch use a different pitcher in the “closer” role, as Hector Rondón was given the ball in the 9th inning in a one-run game and was able to shut the door on a double play ball after allowing a hit and a walk.
At the end of the day, a closer does not need to be some intimidating guy who can throw 100+ MPH, he just needs to be someone who can consistently get hitters to hit ground balls and then get a strikeout when ahead in the count. That was Rondon tonight, and the Astros were able to seal the win because of his effectiveness in getting a crucial ground ball.
On the offensive side, Max Stassi absolutely demolished a baseball (466 feet) to left-center field for a solo home run that broke a 2-2 tie in the fifth inning. Stassi also added a walk on the day and is still proving to be a productive backup catcher for the Astros. Additionally, George Springer added a 2-for-3 night with 1 clutch RBI and Tony Kemp continued to provide a nice boost for the Houston Astros in the bottom of the lineup with a 2-for-4 night.
Tomorrow afternoon, the Astros will send out Dallas Keuchel and the Rangers will send out Matt Moore as their starter. Get your brooms ready people, as the Astros will have a chance to sweep Arlington in four games on the road and secure a Silver Boot Series Title by only June 10. But, in order to do that, they’ll need a different Keuchel than the one who showed up on Tuesday night against the Mariners.