“It takes a whole village to raise a child.” African proverb
It takes a whole team to win a championship.
Today’s win was a team effort for sure, but the heroism that won the game today came from the most unexpected quarters.
Aledmys Diaz was traded to the Astros to replace the recently departed and dearly beloved Marwin Gonzalez, World Series favorite and all-around nice guy. Diaz earned the ire of Astros fans everywhere by choking in his first appearances with his new team, making crucial errors and going 0-9 at the plate, for a -100 OPS+. Wannabe Jeff Luhnows across Astrosland were ready to option this loser to AAA forthwith.
So far in 2019 Tony Kemp gave new meaning to the phrase, “Kempin ain’t easy.” Baseball is a game of failure, sure, but it’s especially ain’t easy when you fail THAT often. A .133 BA won’t cut it for long Tony. Pick up your game.
Tonight Aledmys Diaz had four RBI by the second inning, three on a home run in the first, his first hit as an Astro, and another on a bases loaded walk in the second. I’ll save his crucial contribution to the ninth inning walk off for later.
Diaz’ first hit as an Astro.
Down 8-6 in the bottom of the eighth, and facing the supposedly invincible set-up reliever Lou Trivino, the 5’6” contact hitting Tony Kemp launched a grenade just over the fence in right field to get the Astros to within one run. How the Astros tied the score and eventually won in the ninth I will save for later, but Tony made Kempin look easy once again in the ninth as well.
Let me get this out of the way. The Astros pitching was pretty terrible today, but they’re due a bad day after keeping the offense in so many games so far this year. Starter Brad Peacock allowed five runs in five innings pitched, with five hits, two walks, only three K’s, and a home run to lead-off hitter Robbie Grossman in the second inning. He left the game leading 6-5.
Peacock was followed by Josh James, who allowed two runs in two innings and a home run to Josh Phegley, surrendering a lead. James was followed by Hector Rondon, who let the A’s extend their lead to 8-6 with a home run in the eighth. Thankfully, Astros closer Roberto Osuna held the A’s in the ninth, setting the stage for the walk-off. Overall, the A’s had 11 hits, three doubles and three home runs on Astros pitching.
Now for the fun part.
After finding themselves already down 2-0 in the bottom of the first, in part due to a lucky double off the rafters, the Astros scored five runs off A’s starter Mike Fiers. Jose Altuve started the action with a walk, followed by an Alex Bregman single, a Michael Brantley single that scored Altuve, and then a lucky Carlos Correa infield hit that scored Bregman. And then BOOM. Aledmys Diaz’ hit his three run homer to right center just off the glove of right fielder Stephen Piscotty. Astros up 5-2, bottom of first.
But in the second Grossman hit his two run homer, making it 5-4 Stros. But in the bottom of the second, Altuve hit his first of three infield singles to shortstop Marcus Semien, followed by a Michael Brantley single with one out, and then a Josh Reddick walk with two outs. Mike Fiers then walked Diaz to force in the Astros’ sixth run on two questionable calls by the umpire.
In the fourth inning the A’s got to Peacock again, with Grossman again getting the RBI on a double, scoring Astros product Ramon Laureano, who had two hits today, and six in the series.
With the A’s going ahead in the sixth on the Phegley homer against James, and extending the lead in the eighth on the Pinder homer against Rondon, things looked bleak indeed for the Astros this afternoon. They now had to contend with the supposedly bullet-proof A’s set-up closer tandem of Lou Trivino and Blake Treinen, who, in over 13 innings together, had allowed no runs and only 3 hits.
But light hitting Tony Kemp went yard on Trivino with one out, narrowing the lead to one. George Springer, who struck out three times today, hit a seeing eye Texas League bloop double just between the second baseman and center fielder. Jose Altuve then hit his third infield single, advancing Springer to third, as Matt Chapman left third base undefended. Alex Bregman then hit a medium distance fly ball to all-world defensive outfielder and cannon-armed Ramon Laureano, who already has three assists this young season. Springer took off, Laureano threw a bullet right on target and Springer just beat the throw at home. Score tied. On to Osuna.
Here’s Springer speeding home.
Springer lost fifteen pounds this off-season, and his improved quickness is evident. He might not have scored that run last year.
OK, at last, bottom of the ninth, score tied 8-8. This may not be the most heroic way to walk-off a game, but we’ll take it. And it took some fight just to get to this point.
Josh Reddick led off with a walk. My game MVP, Diaz, hit a solid single to advance Reddick to second. After Robinson Chirinos’ bunt ended with a force out of Reddick at third, Tony Kemp loaded the bases with a walk. With two out Jose Altuve walked off the game on a four pitch walk by the mere mortal man after all, Blake Treinen, who earned a blown save and a tough loss. Or should I say, a glorious win for our hometown favorites.
The Astros are definitely hitting again, surpassing last night’s season leading hit and run totals, getting 14 hits, four for extra bases, and 8 BB’s. They were 4-15 with RISP. They lit up Mike Fiers, who only pitched 1.2 innings, allowing seven hits and four walks. In other words, the Astros had 11 base runners in 16 batters faced by Fiers.
Alex Bregman is on fire. He is 7 for his last 11 at bats.
Bring on the Yankees tomorrow. I’m sure they can’t wait to face Justin Verlander.
Box score and videos HERE
Who was the MVP of game three with the A’s?
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