The Astros have been winning some close games lately with the help of some great defense. Tonight they simply overpowered their opponent with relentless hitting and utterly dominant pitching. They looked like they belonged in a league of their own.
Gerrit Cole mowed down the Rangers, needing only six innings to strike out 12 Rangers. The highlight of the maestro performance came in the sixth inning, with the game still just 2-1. The Rangers had managed two infield hits and runners on first and third. With one out Cole got the Rangers’ best hitter, Elvis Andrus, to ground out to third base without scoring the runner. And then Cole faced one of this year’s premier power hitters, Joey Gallo. Cole held nothing back. Power against power, Cole blew three fastballs right by the Rangers clean up hitter, strike three caught Gallo looking at a 100 MPH blur. End of inning.
Here’s a sample of Cole tonight.
Gerrit Cole, Disgusting 85mph Knuckle Curve...and Sword. ⚔️— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 12, 2019
[The Leader in the Clubhouse for Sword of the Week.] pic.twitter.com/uCfHklLBjS
The only blemish to Cole’s evening was another Hunter Pence right field deep fly ball. But instead of a heroic Josh Reddick catch, this one eluded his glove by an inch for a home run. For the series it was Josh Reddick two magnifico catches, Hunter Pence, one home run.
The Astros bats got a late start, but from the fourth inning on scored at least one run each inning. Every Astro starter had at least one hit, and all but one had at least one run scored or one RBI. The Astros finished with 13 total hits and two home runs.
Michael Brantley started the scoring with a solo home run, his 10th, a line drive just over the right field fence near the foul line. In the fifth the Astro scored an unearned run following a Roughned Odor error when Josh Reddick singled home Robinson Chirinos.
Here’s the Brantley homer.
In the bottom of the sixth, after the Gallo, Cole strikeout duel, Rangers “primary pitcher” Drew Smyly walked the bases loaded with two outs, bringing in Kyle Dowdy. Dowdy threw two consecutive hanging curves to injured Jose Altuve’s replacement, Aledmys Diaz. Diaz took the second one deep into the Crawford Boxes for a grand slam, which would ice the game for the Astros.
But the Rangers would fight back in the seventh. Relief pitcher Chris Devenski gave up a pair of cheap singles, but then he grooved a fastball down the middle for Ronald Guzman, who drilled a three run homer to deep right field to put the Rangers back in contention.
The Astros would get all three runs back in their half of the seventh. With two outs and a runner on third, Yuli Gurriel, Tyler White, and Robinson Chirinos would get three consecutive singles plating three more runs, two on the last one by Chirinos which could have been caught by right fielder Pence.
The Astros added two more in the eighth, one on a Carlos Correa RBI single, and the other on a Yuli Gurriel single, his third hit of the game. Gurriel is heating up. Tonight he extended his hitting streak to eight games, and in the previous seven his BA is .407, slugging .741.
After Devenski left after two outs in the seventh, Hector Rondon got a key strike out to finish the inning. Josh James closed the game for the Astros with two strong scoreless innings of relief. He was aided by a Robinson Chrinos assist catching Elvis Andrus trying to steal second base.
The Astros confirmed a series win with their third in a row against the Rangers tonight. They go for a sweep tomorrow with AAA call-up Corbin Martin pitching in his major league debut against Adrian Sampson. Normally scheduled Collin McHugh has been relegated to the bullpen for the time being. Game time 1:10 CDT.
Box score and videos HERE.