Gerrit Cole pitched the worst game of his career last night, allowing nine runs, eight earned, in 4.1 innings pitched. The most he had allowed previously was seven in five innings, pitched while he was with Pittsburgh. Cole allowed more runs in the first inning alone, five, than he had allowed in any game previously as an Astro.
The Rangers had already won this game by the first inning, but a little luck and a misplay aided their effort. The first batter, Shin-Soo Choo, doubled on a line drive to right field. The ball skirted off the edge of second baseman Jose Altuve’s glove, slightly deflecting what looked like a routine single into a double into the corner. Danny Santana, Roughned Odor’s replacement at second for the Rangers, knocked in Choo with a hard hit single to center. Santana was 3-5 last night.
At this point Cole’s real problem tonight became obvious. He walked the next two batters to load the bases. Out of 104 pitches, Cole only made 68 strikes and never seemed to have full command.
On the other hand, Cole pitched into some hard luck as well. On his second walk of the inning to Nomar Mazara, a clear strike three which was clearly and completely within the strike zone was called ball four. After striking out Joey Gallo, Asdrubal Cabrera hit a lazy pop up into short left field, but because of the shift neither left fielder Josh Reddick nor Alex Bregman could reach the ball, so instead of out two, Cabrera got a two run single.
The next batter, Logan Forsythe, hit a sharp RBI single for the fourth run of the inning, followed by a routine grounder to Carlos Correa by DeLino DeShields. Easy out right? Correa bobbled the ball allowing the fifth run of the inning to score.
So even though Cole was responsible for allowing four hits and two walks in this five run inning, the first hit was an inch from being a line out, the second walk clearly should have been a strikeout, Cabrera’s two run single had an expected batting average of .010, and the fifth run came from a rare Correa error. With any luck this could have been an inning with no runs allowed, or, if you give Choo credit for his line drive double, at least limited to one run with a decent call from the ump and a catch of a ball that had a .990 chance of being caught.
Here’s the blown call by the umpire.
During the Astros’ ten game winning streak they caught a few breaks. Nothing much went right tonight.
In the third Joey Gallo hit his second monstrous home run in two nights, a solo shot directly over the foul pole in right field.
In the fifth inning the the Rangers added three more runs, the first on a Cabrera RBI single which scored Gallo, who had reached second on a double. Cole was replaced by Chris Devenski after a walk to Logan Forsythe, but with two outs a DeLino DeShields triple that was bobbled by center fielder Jake Marisnick scored the eighth and ninth runs for the Rangers.
Despite the offensive onslaught of the Rangers, the Astros had their chances last night and actually out-hit the Rangers 11-10. They stranded runners in scoring position in the first, second, fourth, fifth, and sixth innings, and were 2-13 for the game with runners in scoring position. They also grounded into two double plays with runners in scoring position.
All the Astros’ scoring came on home runs, the first a two run job by Max Stassi in the fifth inning, and the second a two run blast to deep center by George Springer in the seventh. Stassi’s home run was only his second hit of the year.
Starting pitcher for Texas, Adrian Sampson, did not complete five innings, so the winning pitcher was Shawn Kelly. Of course, Gerrit Cole took the loss for the Astros, but he was followed by 3.2 innings of scoreless relief by Chris Devenski, Hector Rondon and Reymin Guduan, although Devenski did allow two inherited runners to score. One bright spot tonight was Guduan, who pitched two scoreless innings in relief, getting 19 strikes out of 29 pitches, allowing no hits with three strikeouts.
For his reward, Guduan was optioned to AAA Round Rock. Framber Valdez is coming back to take his place.
Today, the Astros send Collin McHugh against Shelby Miller in the rubber match of the series. Miller’s ERA thus far in the season is an even 9.00. Game time is 2:05 CDT.
Box score and videos HERE.