The Astros lost for the fourth consecutive game this morning, about 1:15 AM CDT, and fell for the fifth time in the last six games. These have been mostly heartbreaking losses; the ninth inning two-run, game-winning homer by Baltimore last Sunday; the eighth inning grand slam by the White Sox; the one run loss Thursday night in Oakland. Tonight, the Astros’ already exhausted bullpen endured until the 13th inning, when recent call-up Cy Sneed allowed Robbie Grossman to hit a walk-off single, scoring Corban Joseph, who led off the inning with a single.
The Astros’ only scoring came in the sixth inning, when, after the bases were loaded, Carlos Correa hit a sacrifice fly, scoring Michael Brantley, followed by a Yuli Gurriel single, which scored Alex Bregman. Gurriel made the third out trying to stretch his single into a double.
This gave the Astros a 2-1 lead, but the A’s tied the score with a homer in the bottom of the inning by Marcus Semien. The A’s scored in the fifth on a Mark Canha home run.
Justin Verlander pitched seven innings and allowed but two runs on four hits and no walks. He struck out 11, breaking a franchise record of six consecutive games with ten or more Ks.
Manager A.J. Hinch will likely take some heat for this loss, for the way he handled the bullpen, and for a decision taken in the eighth inning.
With two outs, Yordan Alvarez hit a double. Alvarez for the game was 2-2 with two walks. Hinch decided to pinch run for Alvarez, of course causing him to be scratched from the lineup. The subsequent batter failed to score pinch runner Jake Marisnick, but the hole in the five spot behind Alex Bregman plagued the Astros for the remaining five innings of the game, during which time the Astros managed to get only one base hit.
For the game the Astros were two for nine with runners in scoring position, and left 12 runners in scoring position.
In his use of pitchers Hinch seemed to gamble that the game would be over before his more dependable relievers were spent. After Verlander, Hinch sent Ryan Pressly, Roberto Osuna, Will Harris, Joe Smith, and Hector Rondon in to pitch one inning each. Harris, Smith and Rondon each threw less than 14 pitches. By the 13th inning the Astros had only the already overused Chris Devenski and AAA call-up Cy Sneed available from the bullpen. Sneed was the losing pitcher.
The A’s, on the other hand, allowed two of their more reputable relief pitchers, Joaquin Soria and Lou Trivino, to pitch the last five innings. Lou Trivino got the win.
The A’s appeared to have the game all but won in the 12th inning, when Rondon gave up a lead-off double to Matt Chapman. Chapman failed to score however, getting run down attempting to score from third on a ground ball to Carlos Correa.
After losing games behind Wade MIley and Justin Verlander, tomorrow the Astros must rely on another AAA pitcher to put a stop to the losing streak. Rogelio Armenteros faces one of the Athletics’ best pitchers this year, Chris Bassitt.
Day game. 3:05 CDT.
Box score and videos HERE