I confess to all you, my dear friends and fellow Astros fans, and I repent.
After the Astros lost four straight last week, including three at home to the reviled Rangers of Arlington, I thought the Astros would come out of this series in Seattle taking a mere one game lead into Los Angeles this Friday against the red hot Dodgers.
When they got shut out in game one Monday it felt like a foregone conclusion.
When the spark plug, the energy source, the Inspiration, George Springer, went down early in game two, it felt like the Astros game on TV should come with a warning: “Despair, all ye who enter here.”
No Altuve, no Correa, no Springer? No problemo.
A team that had managed only 10 runs and 23 hits in the previous five games, came back to score 13 runs and 30 hits in the last two.
Yes, a World Champion Astros team without THOSE guys (see above). A team that could almost be called the FRESNO Astros. Including the rookie catcher, Max Stassi, as well as Tyler White, Kyle Tucker, Tony Kemp, J.D Davis and Jake Marisnick, all of whom except Stassi having spent significant time with the AAA Fresno Grizzlies this year, the Fresno Boys were a combined 12 -29 in the last two games, for a .414 batting average.
Next man up.
But today’s hero of heroes was the struggling Marwin Gonzalez, no rookie he. He launched two solo home runs, both from the right side, his only right handed home runs this year, in his first two at bats against losing pitcher Wade Le Blanc. It was the third two homer game in his career. See Marwin’s first shot below.
Great Jake, Jake Marisnick that is, just back from the rake farm in Fresno, added his own two run homer in the 2nd to right center field, and later a single in the fourth. If you are an Astros fan and you don’t want to see Jake Marisnick succeed, then you must be the Grinch who stole Christmas. Take it back, the Grinch is a Yankees fan. Hell, he’s the owner. Here’s Jake’s homecoming home run.
The rookie catcher, Max Stassi, made it a four home run day for the Astros, hitting a 3 run shot in the fifth inning, closing out the Astros scoring for the day.
That’s six home runs in two games, none of them by the usual suspects named Altuve, Correa, Springer or Bregman.
the Astros’ starting pitcher, Dallas Keuchel, acquitted himself admirably today, although for a short period it looked like he might not make it out of the second inning. After getting the first out on a rocket line drive straight at J.D. Davis, who flashed some crisp leather all game, the Mariners got a walk and four straight hits, luckily scoring only two runs. A turning point in the game was a scorching line drive by Dee Gordon that was caught by second baseman Gonzalez, which he turned into an unassisted double play to end the threat.
The only other Mariner run would come off a solo home run by Nelson Cruz in the sixth.
Keuchel was vintage today, getting 72 strikes out of 99 pitches in his seven innings. He only had two strikeouts, but he got 11 ground outs and only 2 flyouts.
Brad Peacock and Will Harris closed out the scoreless eighth and ninth innings respectively.
With their home runs today, Marwin Gonzalez, Max Stassi, and Jake Marisnick are all tied with 8 for the year.
So instead of coming out of Seattle with only a one game lead, like me of little faith thought might happen, the Astros take the series and increase their lead against their AL West rival in their own house. Take that you woeful pretenders.
And the fun is only beginning. I’m sure the Fresno boys are eager to show the world what they could have done last October if they had been in Los Angeles in games two and seven of the World Series. I will not count them out again.
Yea, series with the Dodgers begins Friday. Fittingly Justin Verlander takes on ?????? (Astros.com says tbd). Game time 9:10 CDT.
Box score and videos here.
(Credit to Boyce Dubois for the Altuve, Springer, Correa picture)