Baseball is a weird game, where sometimes even the best team can fall to the worst teams on any given day. The Tigers (.303 winning percentage) are certainly the latter right now, and the Astros (.635) are arguably the former, but in a slow Monday night game, Houston put up a big first inning, and managed to fend off a Detroit comeback attempt to force the expected outcome, 5-4.
It looked like things might be off to a rough start. Detroit led off the game with four straight singles against Astros starter Wade Miley, putting up an early 1-0 lead. A George Springer assist to second on #2 batter Travis Demeritte got the team its first out and prevented a second run from coming around, and that wound up making all of the difference in the game.
In the bottom half of the first, Houston struck back in a big way. A Michael Brantley walk and an Alex Bregman single set the table for the heart of the order. Yordan Álvarez doubled in a run, Yuli Gurriel doubled in two more (his 87th and 88th on the season, tied for fifth in the AL) with a fly ball over center fielder Victor Reyes’s head, and Chirinos singled to left to bring in another after left fielder Brandon Dixon misplayed it. (In between those, Carlos Correa was pulled after feeling discomfort in his back on a swing, so keep your fingers crossed that that’s just temporary.) Just like that, it was a 4-1 lead that the team wouldn’t cough up, although it got close in the later innings.
The Tigers began chipping away at the lead in the third, with Brandon Dixon hitting a sac fly following a pair of singles. However, once again, Wade Miley was able to buckle down and end the inning after that. In the sixth, Ronny Rodriguez hit a solo home run to add another run, and that plus a Jake Rogers single spelled the end for Miley. Héctor Rondón managed to stop the bleeding there. In total, Miley won his 12th game of the year thanks to 5.2 innings where on one hand, he struck out eight and walked none, but on the other, he allowed three runs on ten hits (although nine of those were just singles).
Thankfully, the Astros added a fifth run in between those. Jose Altuve (who originally had a night off before Correa left) walked, Yuli singled, then Chirinos came through again with a sac fly to bring in Jose. That extra run wound up being necessary in what was something of a disappointing night for the Astros’ bats; only Gurriel managed multiple hits, the only extra base hits were those two first inning doubles, and on the whole, the Tigers outhit the Astros 14-8 (although as the team stranded 16 runners and struck out 12 times to all-time journeyman Edwin Jackson and company.
Back on the pitchers’ side of things, Rondón, Will Harris, and Roberto Osuna strung together 3.1 innings to close out the game. Demeritte led off the seventh with a home run off of Héctor, Harris had to strand two runners after a walk and a single, and Osuna had to walk around a one-out Dixon double to strand him on third base. The save marked Osuna’s 28th on the year, one behind Brad Hand for second in the American League.
Also of note, today marked the first game at Minute Maid Park with extended netting. The win moves Houston to 80-46 on the year, 8.0 games ahead of the A’s in the AL West and 3.0 behind the Yankees for best record in the American League (both were idle today). Tomorrow brings game two of the series, with Spencer Turnbull (3-11) and Aaron Sanchez (5-14) squaring off starting at 7:10 PM CDT.