Some people are calling him the sparkplug. The sparkplug in the nine hole. The guy who gets things started for the big bats at the top.
Tonight he was a pinch hitter. Not known for a big bat, a contact hitter, and with his team down 2-1 with runners on second and third, all Tony Kemp needed to do was make contact somewhere where their guys ain’t. A hit’s a run as they say, or two runs in this case, and if he could do it the Astros would have their first lead of the game.
With two strikes and seemingly overpowered, Kemp took an inside fastball and plunked it opposite field just inside the third baseman to score Tyler White and Yuli Gurriel, who had just hit an RBI double himself. With the big hit of the day, a dink of a two run double, Kemp had gone from spark plug to power train.
In the eighth the Astros would add three more runs after George Springer, Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman led off with singles to load the bases. Carlos Correa would hit a sac fly to score Springer, a wild pitch would score Altuve, and just so we don’t forget him, Tyler White singled home Bregman to complete Houston’s scoring.
Astros pitching held the most potent lineup in baseball to three runs, confirming the strength of both the rotation and the bullpen this game. Gerrit Cole threw six strong innings, allowing two runs, five hits and two walks, while striking out eight. He allowed a sac fly RBi to J. D. Martinez in the first, and a solo home run to Xander Bogarets in the fourth.
When he left the game after six, Cole figured to be the winning pitcher, but his immediate relief was shaky, with Collin McHugh and Ryan Pressly giving up three base runners and a run to allow the Red Sox to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh.
The Astros regained the lead in the eighth, and Hector Rondon and Roberto Osuna shut down the Red Sox in the eighth and ninth innings respectively, preserving the Astros win, with Osuna getting the save, his 14th.
Inquiring minds want to know: Do the Astros have the momentum yet? Alex Bregman does. He just reached the .300 milestone in this game.
Tomorrow Charlie Morton returns to the mound after a brief hiatus due to shoulder discomfort. He will be opposed by Eduardo Rodriguez.
Early game time, 3:05 CDT.
Box score and videos here.