Offense wins baseball games. No, pitching wins baseball games. No defense wins baseball games.
Tonight’s game was a clinic in all three aspects of the game, and when you so excel at all three, scores like 7-1 happen.
Gerrit Cole was Gerrit Cole. I guess he forgot that the votes for pitcher of the month have already been cast, because he started August like it was still July. Once again he gave up fewer than one base runner per inning, allowing four hits and two walks in his seven innings of one-run ball. His strikeout numbers were down a bit tonight, getting only four, but that is four added to his league-leading total (216).
But Cole needed defensive help tonight, and the fielders obliged by throwing out two Indians at the plate to help their pitcher evade jams.
First, a double by Jason Kipnis should have scored a run for the Indians in the second inning, except for a perfect relay throw right down the middle of the plate by Carlos Correa.
In the fourth inning, after the Indians had already scored one run on a sac fly, new Indian Franmil Reyes struck another fly ball that seemed destined to score another run. That is, until Josh Reddick dotted the strike zone yet again from the outfield.’ See both plays below.
Has anyone considered converting Carlos Correa to a two-way player? Seriously, he throws 94 MPH strikes from the outfield.
The Astros relied on long balls for their early scoring, and I do mean early scoring, as George Springer led off the game, once again, with a home run. It was his 25th of the season, and 32nd lead-off home run of his career.
Alex Bregman seems to have rediscovered his stroke tonight, going 3-3 with two walks. In the fourth inning he put the Astros ahead 2-0 with a solo homer, his 27th.
The Astros added two more runs in the seventh when Michael Brantley dooubled home George Springer, sending Jose Altuve to third. Altuve scored on a Bregman single.
The Astros added three in the eighth after new Astro catcher Martin Maldonado doubled, followed by a walk and a hit by pitch, loading the bases. Michael Brantly sacrificed Maldonado, and after a Bregman walk Yordan Alvarez hit a two run double off the wall in right field, his second double of the night.
Alvarez, Bregman and Altuve all had multi-hit games, but Yuli Gurriel was hitless, thus ending his hitting streak at 18 games.
Chris Devenski closed the game with a perfect ninth inning. With all the new pitchers coming to the Astros, Devenski is making a bid to be one of the ones that remain from the existing roster. Since July 16th , not including tonight, Devo’s ERA is 1.35, with FIP and xFIP in the mid-threes.
Check out Bregman’s new workout.
Tomorrow the Astros return home to face the Seattle Mariners. Game time 7:10 CDT
Yusei Kikuchi (4-7, 5.21 ERA) faces Wade Miley ( 9-4, 3.06 ERA)
Box score and videos HERE.