This is why we love baseball.
I’d love to tell you the story of the hero of this great Astros victory. But where to start? And who to leave out?
OK, we’ll start with George Springer’s walk-off single in the tenth. It was the game-winner. He had struck out twice earlier in the game in crucial situations and some folks on our game threads were starting to doubt how clutch he be. Oh ye of little faith.
He won the World Series MVP that year, but for you doubters, here’s what he did today.
Never a doubt, winners win. #TakeItBack pic.twitter.com/eLSBmDILP4— Houston Astros (@astros) July 7, 2019
But what about Josh Reddick right in front of him. Quintessential Reddick. A sharp line drive to right-center that really looked like a single, but Red-man saw double the milli-second that ball left his bat, put his head down, and like Forrest Gump, he just ran.
(And he almost got picked off, but New York umps gave us a generous replay call. That time. More on New York later)
How about Yordan Alvarez? Any other day a 3-5 performance with 3 RBI would make the lede. Especially when one of those hits scored two runs and tied the game in the bottom of the eighth.
Or how about All-Star Michael Brantley, 4-6, with three runs scored. Or Tyler White, 3-6 with a crucial RBI double. Or Tony Kemp, who started the scoring with a two-run home run in the second inning.
But even if he didn’t hit the walk-off, my nomination for the biggest hero of this game is Yuli Gurriel, who is on a literally unprecedented home run tear in the history of the Astros.
With the game seemingly a blowout in the bottom of the sixth, Halos up 8-4, Jose Altuve hit a double off the wall in center field. (Mike Trout tried to impersonate a bad Hollywood actor pretending he caught the ball before it hit the wall) Alex Bregman walked, and Michael Brantley singled the bases loaded, bringing up Yuli.
Flashbacks ran through the heads of all Astros faithful. Can he tie the score with another super clutch homer like this one?
Yes. He. Can.
5 straight games with a .— Houston Astros (@astros) July 7, 2019
This one was just a little more grand. #TakeItBack pic.twitter.com/Ii9e4x84oF
Going into the game today Yuli had hit eight home runs in his last ten games, which tied him with Glen Davis and Jeff Bagwell for the most home runs in a ten game period by an Astro. Make that nine home runs in eleven games, and home runs in his last five consecutive games.
Before today’s 2-4 performance with two walks, since June 23rd Gurriel has been hitting .390 with a 1.468 OPS. And that with a low .258 BABIP. Just smokin.
It was the eighth grand slam this year, an Astros franchise record.
All in all, the Astros came from behind to tie the game or go ahead three times. But for most of this game it looked like an Angels blow out.
The blowing out started in the third, when the Angels in their second time around the order began taking batting practice on Astros starter Jose Urquidy. (back to the drawing boards in search of that elusive fifth starter) The Angels got seven hits and five runs before Urquidy was removed from duty, the big blow a Shohei Ohtani two-run homer. Luckily, although it didn’t feel so lucky at the time, Chris Devenski was able to strand two Angels runners with one out to keep the score at 5-2.
The Angels kept pulling away, adding a run in the fourth on a Mike Trout sac fly, a run in the fifth on a Jonathon Lucroy triple on a fly that a more confident and competent left -fielder than Yordan Alvarez might have caught. And they added another run in the sixth on a Mike Trout blast to center field off Collin McHugh, the only run he has surrendered since his return from IL.
At that point the score was 8-4 before the Yuli blast in the bottom of the inning to tie the game up.
The Angels killed the Astros buzz after the Yuli dinger with another Trout blast, a two-run job off Will Harris, his second of the game and league-leading 28th of the year, more than any other Angel in history at the All-Star break.
But the Astros were not done fighting. In the bottom of the eighth Michael Brantley led off with a single, followed by a Gurriel single, runners advancing to second and third on a wild pitch. Yordan Alvarez then tied the score with a two run single to center field.
And then transpired what will no doubt be one of the most controversial calls all year.
Tyler White singled pinch-runner Jake Marisnick to second, and Josh Reddick loaded the bases with no outs on a walk. Robinson Chirinos almost gave the Astros the lead with a bullet that somehow pitcher Hansel Robles caught. Then George Springer hit a medium length fly ball to Kole Calhoun in right field, and after the catch, Jake Marisnick tagged hoping to score on the sacrifice fly.
Marisnick tried to avoid a collision with catcher Jonathon Lucroy by tacking slightly inside the baseline. However, at the same time, Lucroy moved in to the same spot to catch the ball, which he was unable to do, causing Marisnick to unintentionally collide with him.
Upon lengthy review Marisnick was called out and the inning was over, score tied 10-10. Meanwhile Jonathon Lucroy was shaken up, and has been taken to the hospital for a CT scan and examination of a possible broken nose. We wish him all the best.
Here’ s the video.
After review, @MLB overturned this call and took the @Astros run off the board... pic.twitter.com/0kOcsv4RbZ— SportsTalk 790 (@SportsTalk790) July 7, 2019
Here’s the rule.
According to @MLB rules, that collision was “egregious” as Marisnick “ran out of a direct line to the plate”. pic.twitter.com/NIIrhXvZo0— SportsTalk 790 (@SportsTalk790) July 7, 2019
It would have been a bitter loss if the Angels had gone on to outscore the Astros in extra-innings based on such a controversial ruling. I’m not taking a stand on this, but many Astros fans, including TV commentator-for-the-day Lance Berkman, believed Marisnick was trying to avoid contact, and that Lucroy moved in to him.
Y’all argue, but be nice.
This was an incredible slugfest. Twenty-one runs and 35 hits. With all the scoring there were still 26 runners left on base, 16 by the Stros.
Kudos to Roberto Osuna and Ryan Pressly for accomplishing what no other Astros pitcher could do; hold the Angels without scoring, setting the stage for the George Springer/Josh Reddick heroics. Ryan Pressly got the win.
All-Star break coming up. Home Run derby with Alex Bregman tomorrow, and the Big Game on Tuesday.
The Astros resume their season against the Rangers Thursday.
Box score and videos HERE