It’s too late at night for me to check, but I’d be willing to bet that going in, this game would have had one of the lowest win probabilities of the season for the Astros. Without injured Lance McCullers, the Astros tonight were set for a pitching by committee arrangement, a la Tampa Bay Rays. Framber Valdez, just off the plane from AAA Fresno, a rookie, who hasn’t thrown a single pitch to a major league batter, figured to get the most innings. Oh yeah, with his new team in a dogfight for first place.
Don’t be nervous rook.
Reliever Brad Peacock started admirably for the Stros, retiring five Mariners before running out of gas, giving way for the rookie’s debut. With runners on first and second, and no score, Valdez got Dee Gordon to fly out to end the second inning.
Valdez would eat four more innings, allowing only one unearned run on a passed ball, two hits and four K’s. Auspicious.
Valdez’s curveball pic.twitter.com/MHe2YDoQNQ— Houston Astros (@astros) August 22, 2018
Auspicious night for Carlos Correa too, who had been hitting under .100 since his return from the DL. He was 3-3 with a sac fly RBI in the third, and a run scored in the sixth in front of a Yuli Gurriel RBI single.
The other Astros run came off a Josh Reddick home run in the fourth. And another good night for Tyler White, 2-4 with a double.
Down 3-1, the Mariners made it a nail biter in the eighth, getting three hits and a run off Roberto Osuna. With the tying run on third, Osuna recovered, striking out pinch hitter Nelson Cruz and Dee Gordon to extinguish the threat.
Osuna got a hold, as did Joe Smith for his scoreless 7th inning.
On the day when manager A. J. Hinch said Osuna would generally get the save role henceforth, it was Hector Rondon who finished the game, getting his 14th save of the year with a perfect ninth.
If this story had been about how the Astros lost the lead in the AL West for the first time since 2016, it would have been a story of 6 bleepity bleep double plays, an Astros record and tied for the most by any major league team in a nine inning game. It’s been a problem all year, but this is getting ridiculous.
Jose Altuve was back. No hits, but good contact. Looked like himself. We missed you Jose. There’s no one else like you and this team needs you.
Afternoon game tomorrow, 3:10 CDT.
Charlie Morton against Marco Gonzalez.
Box Score and videos here