The yuletide is a 12-day holiday that typically spans Christmas into the New Year. While that may be a great tradition, it’s got nothing on the Yuli-tide, a celebration that’s lasted over two months and shows no signs of letting up.
Yuli Gurriel hit a tie-breaking two-run shot, his 21st homer in the last 49 games, to help Zack Greinke remain perfect during his tenure with the Houston Astros in a 5-4 triumph over the Los Angeles Angels Friday night.
With the game tied 2-2 in the bottom of the fifth inning, Alex Bregman hit a two-out double to end the night for Angels’ starter Jose Suarez.
Gurriel crept to the plate to face Noe Ramirez, the Angels’ reliever who went hunting for Jake Marisnick’s head a little over a month ago. Yuli came through yet again, clubbing a two-out, two-strike homer to the opposite field to give the Astros their first lead of night, 4-2.
Gurriel—who entered the night hitting .281 with two strikes this season, third-best in MLB—extended his career-high home run total to 26. He also has a team-leading 91 RBI, which ranks fifth in the AL.
The Angels closed to within a run in the sixth inning when Shohei Ohtani, who reached on an Altuve error to start the frame, scored on an RBI groundout from Justin Upton. Los Angeles threatened for more but was stymied when Andrelton Simmons chopped a grounder right at Greinke for an inning-ending double play.
The Astros pushed the lead back to two in the seventh when Bregman hit an RBI single up-the-middle that scored Altuve to make it 5-3.
Hector Rondon surrendered a leadoff homer to Kole Calhoun, who went a perfect 4-for-4 and was a thorn in the Astros’ side all night, in the eighth to help the Angels immediately get a run back.
Rondon retired the next three Angels in order, though he has now allowed a homer in two straight appearances following an 11 1⁄3 scoreless-inning streak that dated back to July 20.
Roberto Osuna pitched a flawless ninth to collect his fifth save in six days and 31st overall.
The Angels started the scoring by hitting three straight singles in the second inning to take a 1-0 lead, courtesy of a base hit by Astros’ archnemesis Albert Pujols. Pujols has 164 career RBI against Houston, his most against any team.
Andrelton Simmons added another run in the second for the Angels on a fielder’s choice RBI to make it 2-0.
The Astros answered in the third inning thanks to a much-needed two-out single from Altuve that scored Marisnick to cut the lead in half.
A batter later, Michael Brantley dropped in a single to shallow center to extend his hitting streak to 16 games. Coming into tonight’s game, Brantley was hitting .476 (30-for-63) over his last 15 games and led MLB in batting average during August (.431) and for the season (.338).
Though Suarez allowed three hits in the inning, he got Bregman to popout to limit the Astros to one run and keep the Angels ahead.
The Astros tied the game with three straight hits of their own in the fourth. With one out, Robinson Chirinos smacked a double to left, his career-high 18th of the season. Abraham Toro followed with an infield single he narrowly beat for his first MLB hit.
Toro displayed near-elite wheels on the hit, registering a sprint speed of 29.6 feet/second, according to Statcast.
An RBI single from Marisnick later in the inning scored Chirinos to tie the game, 2-2.
Greinke (4-0, 2.45 with Houston; 14-4, 2.83 overall) wiggled out of trouble all night long. The leadoff batter reached base for the Angels in five straight innings before Greinke retired Matt Thaiss to begin the seventh. Though Greinke went 6 2⁄3 innings and allowed only two runs, the Angels had 10 hits off him and he struck out just one batter in the game.
Greinke did get a huge out when he induced Mike Trout into a popup with runners on the corners and one away in the seventh. A.J. Hinch summoned Will Harris to face the next batter, Shohei Ohtani, who struck out swinging to end the inning and preserve the Astros’ 4-3 lead.
What matters most is Greinke was crafty enough to work deep into the game for the Astros, who are dealing with a depleted backend of the bullpen.
Suarez (2-5, 6.67) allowed two runs on seven hits and threw a career-high 92 pitches in his 4 2⁄3 innings. His stuff looked decent, but Suarez was all over the place with his control in his 12th Big-League start. Suarez has yet to last six innings in a game, though tonight was the first time he’s allowed less than four earned runs in an outing in nearly a month.
Ramirez gave up two runs on four hits in his two innings of work. Luis Garcia recorded one out for the Angels and allowed two hits. Miguel Del Pozo struck out two Astros in his third MLB appearance to provide the Angels a scoreless eighth.
Gurriel had his 44th multi-hit game of the season, sixth-most in MLB. Bregman had two hits and has now reached base in 17 straight games.
Toro had two hits in the game, both of the infield variety. Both he and Marisnick were caught stealing on consecutive attempts in the sixth inning.
Every Astro in the lineup, sans George Springer, recorded a hit.
Three of Calhoun’s four hits came off Greinke. He’s now hitting .588 (10-for-17) against the Astros’ starter in his career. At just 21 years old, Suarez became the youngest player to debut for the Angels earlier this season since Mike Trout.
The Astros have gone 24-10 since Ramirez threw at Marisnick.
Box score and videos here.
The Astros play their sixth of a season-long 10-game homestand when they host the Angels Saturday evening. Wade Miley (12-4, 3.18) will take the mound for Houston in the second of 10 games forthcoming against the Halos in the final 33 games of the season. Miley, ranked fifth in the AL in ERA, narrowly missed a quality start in his last outing. He threw 5 2⁄3 innings against the Detroit Tigers, allowing three earned runs on 10 hits and struck out eight to notch the win. Miley has an outside shot at a career-high in wins (16, set in 2012, his sophomore season with Arizona) with a little more than a month left in the regular season. He’s 4-0 with a 2.14 ERA in five career starts against the Angels and 7-3 with a 2.72 ERA lifetime at Minute Maid Park. Dillon Peters (3-1, 3.92) is scheduled to make his sixth start and 11th appearance overall for the Angels. The 26-year-old went four innings and threw 106 pitches in his previous start, allowing five runs on seven hits and striking out three against Arlington on Monday. Peters had logged quality starts in each of his last three outings prior to Monday. He has never faced the Astros. First pitch Saturday is slated for 6:10 CT.