The Astros took one on the chin tonight as DK’s 1st inning woes would continue to haunt him while the ugly side of Houston’s home offense would show up again. Those two combined for a listless loss where Seattle would run away with things early and cruise to an easy victory while the Astros struggled to get anything going on the basepaths.
Even more bruising to the ego was the fact that Seattle would have a bullpen day, burning through 7 relievers who would all keep Houston from effectively challenging. Meanwhile, the Astros’ bullpen would have a real stinker of a night, with a couple of September call ups coming on to eat innings once things got out of hand.
But before it even got to that, Keuchel would be immediately in trouble to start the game, allowing the first three batters to reach with leadoff man Segura coming all the way around to score. Dallas would come back to strikeout Nelson Cruz, but followed that up with a walk and a wild pitch that would put Houston down by 2.
A screaming liner from Kyle Seager that plunked off of DK’s shoulder would bring home the 3rd run of the first before Keuchel was able to escape by getting two more outs. From there Dallas would seemingly find his groove again, retiring the next 12 batters in a row before running into trouble in the 5th.
Before that, however, Astros hitters would face the Seattle bullpen, with Matt Festa taking the mound as the opener in a spot start for James Paxton. Unfortunately, things went about as well as they did in the first game as Houston went hitless until the 4th and squandered base runners by ending back to back innings with double plays.
Astros have grounded into 149 double plays this season. That's the most in the majors. Second on the list is Baltimore with 126.— Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) September 20, 2018
Everything would run smoothly until the 5th, when the wheels would start coming off thanks to some dirt gymnastics by Mitch Haniger. He would walk and then maneuver around a Maldanado swipe tag at home plate after a Cano double brought him in from first. Cruz would then drive Cano in with an RBI single before DK wiggled out of further trouble and ended his night after 5 innings.
Houston would make one last attempt at a rally in the bottom of the 5th, with both Yuli and Reddick reaching with only one out. Hinch would pinch hit Kemp and Gattis for Maldonado and Marisnick to try and make something happen, but both would come up empty, stranding both base runners along with the Astros hope for mounting a comeback.
From there Houston would put up almost no fight while Seattle poured it on, adding 4 more runs in the 6th through 8th innings, including three solo homers. Houston’s lineup would begin to take on a distinctly AAA feel as the game got late with Dan Deetz, Cionel Perez, Kyle Tucker, Myles Straw, and J.D. Davis would all make appearances. Deetz and Perez would both give up runs while pitching, but, to be fair, neither has seen much work in recent weeks.
Devo would have an encouraging 9th inning, appearing in consecutive games for the first time since June 23rd. He would log a 1-2-3 inning that was also his second consecutive scoreless outing after a string of ugly appearances dating back to before he went on the DL. He was easily the most effective pitcher in the game, though that wasn’t exactly a high bar.
The Astros are now 95-57 and their magic number to clinch the division remains at 7 with low chance of it shrinking tonight thanks to a 9-0 A’s lead out in Oakland as of this writing. Houston’s postseason clinching number will also remain static, staying at 3 as Tampa was able to beat the Rangers earlier this afternoon.
Houston is also still one win away from clinching home field against Cleveland in a potential ALDS after being denied thanks to a Cleveland walk off grand slam from earlier tonight.
Box score and video here.