What if I told you that the Astros stellar, league leading bullpen would take a 5-1 lead into the seventh inning, and that Will Harris, Ryan Pressly, and Roberto Osuna would blow that lead. And then that Hector Rondon would blow another lead. What if I told you that Josh James and Chris Devenski would be the bullpen heroes, keeping the game tied for four innings, while giving up three walks each. Or that the key offensive contributors were Robinson Chirinos, Tyler White, Jack Mayfield and Myles Straw. And that the Astros won.
And that it all took 14 innings and 5 hours. You’d say, Crazy game, right?
I’m so tired from watching this game I don’t know how I’m going to write this recap.
To start with, Justin Verlander was again superb, way better than his box score of 6.1 innings and 3 earned runs. One of those runs came in the first inning on a bonehead snafu in the outfield that looked like Little League. On a high fly to left center, easily catchable by either left fielder Michael Brantley or center fielder Jake Marisnick, both just watched the other as the ball dropped in for a double. The next batter, Daniel Vogelbach, hit a broken bat single to left which scored the first of the three runs against Verlander. Crucial as it turned out, for without that run the game would not have gone into extra innings.
Here’s Brantley and Marisnick admiring each other.
But just to be fair, here’s another Jake play later in the game.
Verlander cruised until the seventh inning when he gave up another single to Vogelbach. and then allowed a hit to Domingo Santana, runners on first and second one out.
Although Verlander’s pitch count was still in the low nineties, Manager A.J. Hinch deferred to his lights out bullpen to close out this game, starting with Will Harris, who came into this game with a 1.23 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP. Harris would proceed to give up three singles and three runs, two of which were charged to Verlander, and one charged to himself. Since the score was 5-4, somehow the baseball scoring credited Harris with a hold.
Before that, the Astros had built up their lead with three runs in the first on opener Austin Adams on a Yuli Gurriel RBI single which scored Derek Fisher, and then a two run homer by Robinson Chirinos, his 10th of the year, and fourth in the last four games in which he has played.
The Astros would add another run in the fifth on Alex Bregman’s 18th home run. And then super-Jack, Jack Mayfield, who had not gotten a hit since his first at bat after coming up over a week ago, smashed his first jack, to give the Astros what appeared to be a secure 5-1 lead in the top of the seventh.
The Astros would add another run in the eighth when Robinson Chirinos walked, Tyler White hit him to second, Jake Marisnick walked, and Tony Kemp sacrificed Chirinos with a fly ball to the gap in left center, which barely missed being a three run double.
With the score 6-4, surely the dynamic bullpen duo, Ryan Pressly and Roberto Osuna, would lock down the win, like they’ve done almost every game this year. But Pressly, who had only walked two hitters all season, walked the first two batters he faced, got a ground out, but then allowed an RBI single to Domingo Santana. Roberto Osuna was brought in ahead of schedule to put out the flames, and he got two fly outs to preserve a one run Astros lead going into the ninth.
Surely Osuna would not fail. Not Harris, Pressly, AND Osuna. But fail he did, breaking the cardinal rule of all closers: DO NOT WALK THE LEAD-OFF HITTER. This he did, and the hitter, Dylan Moore, advanced to third on two ground outs. And of course, the next hitter, Edwin Encarnacion, would single Moore home and send the game into extra innings.
But the Astros do not quit. And in the tenth, they led off with a Chirinos walk, followed by a Tyler White single (he would go 3-6), then an expert Jake Marisnick sacrifice bunt. Then right on cue, pinch hitter Josh Reddick plated Chirinos with a long sac fly to center. A little small ball and the Astros had another lead, if only Hector Rondon, ERA 2.57, could hold it.
It looked so promising. First a ground out, then a miraculous Willie Mays catch of a right field pop up by Tony Kemp. Two outs, nobody on, catcher Omar Narvaez to the plate.
On a 3-2 count, just one pitch more to go to end the game, Narvaez launched a bomb deep into the right field seats. Score tied. Another blown save.
Who’s left on the Astros bullpen who can do better than Harris, Pressly, Osuna and Rondon? All the highest leverage relievers failed, so now what? Josh James, who did Josh James things.
After opening with a strikeout, James walked speedy Mallex Smith. Then James walked Mac Williamson. Then James walked Edwin Encarnacion. He got down in the count 2-0 to the next batter, Daniel Vogelbach, but James somehow re-discovered his control just in time to avoid walking in the winning run, and struck out Vogelbach swinging. Kyle Seager flied out to end the inning.
James had a clean twelfth inning, striking out two, finishing his two innings with three walks, four K’s, and a lot of hot baseballs.
The Astros could not score, so the last viable reliever came in, the not so whippin-it-lately Chris Devenski, 4.68 season ERA. Devo pitched a clean lucky 13th inning with lots of COD’s and two K’s, just like old times.
In the top of the fourteenth came Myles Straw, and just when people were starting to think that Straw’s early success in the Big Leagues was a fluke, he led off the inning with a triple. After a Gurriel deep sacrifice fly, the Astros were back on top, 8-7.
It was all up to Devo now. He got the lead-off hitter to strike out. Whip it. But then he walked Vogelbach on a 3-2 count. He struck out Kyle Seager but then he walked Omar Narvaez. The Mariners had a runner in scoring position with two out. We’ve been here before. Devo got down in the count to Shed Long 3-1. And then, miracles of miracles, Shed Long chased a high fastball and lofted it to left field, where it landed safely in the glove of Myles Straw.
Devo gets the win
Astros win the series.
There were seventeen walks in this game, nine by the Astros, eight by the Mariners. If you think the umpire might have had something to do with that, you would be right.
In the last Astros Trending we made the following prediction:
All four’s results (Harris, Rondon, Pressly and Osuna) are out-performing peripherals, and especially Osuna and Rondon, whose HR/FB rates are ridiculously low at 4,2% and 7.1% respectively. Oh yeah, Will Harris still hasn’t given up a homer yet either. ( He has since) Don’t be shocked or dismayed when regression comes to these stellar bullpen performers.
Regression can be a bitch.
The Astros, with an utterly depleted bullpen, head home for a three game set with the Orioles starting tomorrow at minute Maid park.
Gerrit Cole takes on Gabriel Ynoa
Game time 7:10 CDT.