After losing the first two games in this series, today the Astros were cooking up a hot, tasty dish called revenge for the boys from South Oklahoma. And just when it seemed finished, then bang, Jose Altuve decided to spice it up with a heaping helping of humiliation just for good measure.
His seventh inning grand slam, the main blow in a seven run inning, buried whatever slim chances the Rangers might have had to make an Astros-like miracle comeback. But wait, then Yuli Gurriel piled on some more of his own with a two run homer, as if to say to the Rangers: “we may have split the series, but you’ll never forget this beat down. Good riddance Globe Life Park, you Hell-hole.” Here’s Yuli’s statement.
Not that the Rangers have been some sort of wimpy opponent. They had scored twenty runs in the previous three games, having beaten the Astros 9-8 on Friday, and losing by only one run, 7-6, on Saturday in extra innings. But Justin Verlander ensured on this Sunday that if any team would be slugging, it wasn’t going to be the team facing his pitches.
All-Star starter Verlander threw six innings, allowing two runs on four hits and a walk, while striking out seven Rangers. He overcame his own personal demon, the long-ball, preventing not only Rangers homers, but not even allowing a single extra base hit as well.
After allowing four singles and two runs in the first inning, the Rangers did not touch Verlander again through his entire six inning stint. They would not score again until the seventh, when Chris Devenski walked four, and was credited with allowing two runs when his relief, Joe Smith, allowed an RBI single.
Good to have Joe Smith back. However, am I alone in despairing that Devenski will ever find his old mojo?
But it was good to see another perfect inning from Collin McHugh to close the game. With Brad Peacock’s return to the rotation delayed by yet more shoulder “soreness,” is it McHugh’s time to return to the rotation, especially considering his success in the bullpen following his return from IL?
The Astros pounced early on Rangers starter Ariel Jurado. Altuve led off the game with a single, followed by two walks, and then the two Cuban missiles, Yordan Alvarez and Yuli Gurriel, would plate one run each with singles. Josh Reddick finished the scoring for the inning with a sacrifice fly to center field. Here’s the first inning action.
After the Rangers scored their two runs in the bottom of the first, the Astros added two more runs in the second. Speedster Myles Straw walked, and went to third on a Jose Altuve single. Alex Bregman scored Straw with a sac fly, and Altuve would score on a Michael Brantley RBI single.
The score would remain 5-2 until the seventh inning, when the Astros erupted for seven runs, four on the Altuve grand slam that barely cleared the wall in left-center field, and two more on the Gurriel bomb, making the score 12-2. Here’s Altuve’s killer blow, the ninth Astros grand slam of the year, a team record.
The Rangers added their last two runs in the bottom of the seventh, making the score 12-4, where the scoring stood until the end of the game.
Is Jose Altuve back? I mean the real Jose Altuve. Not the one who was hitting .243 when he got injured in May. I mean the MVP Jose Altuve. Since June 20th Altuve is hitting .321, and since June 30th, not including today’s magnificence, his slash line is an MVP-like .357/.372/.524. That’s an .896 OPS, and a 142 wRC+. Not including today’s magnificence. He was 3 for 5 today, after going 4 for 6 yesterday.
In the last three games Jose is 8 for 16 with two homers, including today’s slam, and two doubles, one of which was yesterday’s game-winning hit in the eleventh inning. Man, isn’t it great to have Jose Altuve carrying his usual hefty load again.
And what about Gurriel? He’s not slowing down one bit. He was 3 for 5 today too. Since June 23rd, not including today’s magnificence, La Pina is slashing an obscene .368/419/.947. That’s a 1.366 OPS. He’s had eleven home runs in 62 PAs!
Of course a great Astros win is not complete without Jake Marisnick laying out at least once to steal someone’s hit.
Tomorrow the Astros take on the Angels of Anaheim, or is it the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, or just the Los Angeles Angels. Whatever.
Josh James gets his first start of this season, and after his performance Saturday night, I, for one, am looking forward to it. Mike Trout left the game today, suffering a mild calf issue. Maybe Josh James will be lucky enough to not have to try to pitch to the Greatest Hitter of our Generation.
The Angels counter with Griffin Canning.
Game time 9:07 CDT
Box score and videos HERE.