When will Tyler White stop hitting like J. D. Martinez? Surely any day now. This can’t go on much longer, can it? What goes up must come down, I mean, 33rd round draft picks don’t hit OPS 1.032, do they?
The feeding frenzy continues despite all the conventional wisdom. At least for one more day, a day when it mattered, probably the biggest game of the year. And if it was the biggest game of the year, then Tyler White’s walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth against the surging Oakland A’s was the biggest hit of the year.
It must’ve felt like a dagger in the back of the A’s, who with their 27-10 record in one run games and their stacked bullpen, don’t think they’re supposed to lose games like this. They think they are the team of destiny. Oh yeah, 27 and 11 record.
Are shark teeth like daggers?
Here’s the bite.
Tyler White has officially become the best Astros story of 2018. This is the second time this month he has won a game with a late inning homer. He is not supposed to be here. He’s too pudgy, he’s too slow, he swings funny, he doesn’t have a position, he was drafted 33 round from hillbilly college NC. He has tried and failed numerous times in the big leagues, and it is a miracle he ever got a chance in the first place. What he has is what makes the rest of the team so great. He has never quit. He has never quit trying. He has never quit on himself. He has never believed the naysayers. He has never let failure stop him. Tyler White is why I love baseball and love the Astros.
OK, the other guys played today too. George Springer was 2-4 with a walk and a fourth inning RBI. Alex Bregman is red hot again, and went 2-3 with two walks including one for an RBI.
Jose Altuve had an RBI single, but struck out four times for the first time in his career. Carlos Correa was 0-4, but did have a first inning sac fly. But if not for White, this story would be about how the three and four hitters were 1-9, and how they left the bases loaded for the second day in a row.
But we’ll worry about that later, because today Tyler White had his first walk off home run in his career, in the biggest game of the year.
Fun Tyler White facts: Tyler White’s home run came on an 0-2 count against the slider. White is rated 15th in MLB in his effectiveness against the slider. He has a .393 batting average on 0-2 counts this year before today. Fangraphs says he has a .500 BA in high leverage situations with one home run before today. We can add another homer to that total. His home run was hit only 332 feet, at only 96 MPH, with an astronomical 44 degree launch angle. It was the quintessential Crawford Box home run. It had a 1% hit probability.
Don’t say the Astros are never lucky. Or is it karma?
Dallas Keuchel started the game and struggled, but managed a quality start, six innings with 3 runs, 8 hits and a walk. He kept it close, and left the game with the lead.
Brad Peacock almost allowed the game to be blown wide open, walking the bases loaded in relief of Keuchel in the seventh. But Tony Sipp and Joe Smith bailed him out, limiting the damage to one run, tying the game and setting the stage for White.
Last night’s goat, Roberto Osuna, was the winning pitcher, looking sharp in a scoreless ninth.
Tomorrow the Astros take on Mike Trout and the Angels at Minute Maid. Andrew Heaney (7-8, 4.25 ERA) faces Justin Verlander (13-8, 2.72 ERA).
Box score and videos here.
If you haven’t already done so, give a look to this recent article about Tyler White published here at the Crawfish Boxes.