Tonight’s game was a ride. Wade Miley, who entered game 1 of this penultimate homestand with the third-best ERA in the AL behind Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole, had an incredibly rough start. It looked like it was going to be a boring, uncompetitive game, so I decided to take mhatter’s advice and try something different to spice things up: a game recap where each inning was compared to a different player from Astros history.
Pick one Astro from franchise history to represent each inning. inning 1 is Carlos Gomez.— mhatter106 (@mhatter106) September 6, 2019
It was a fun way to keep involved in what looked like it might be a lopsided game, but then things got weird from there. Nevertheless, I decided to stick with the gimmick even as the Astros came back and we faced extra inning after extra inning. So join me, as I retell this newest bit of Astros history with even more Astros history:
Top of the first: Carlos Gomez
You can see why things looked good; adding Carlos Gomez to a young team in playoff contention? Starting 2019 Wade Miley against the 2019 Mariners? That seems like a good formula. Instead, things quickly became a disaster. Miley allowed five straight hits (including a Kyle Seager home run), then a walk before being pulled for Cy Sneed. No outs recorded, 5-0 Mariners.
Bottom of the first: Willy Taveras
Remember when Taveras finished second in Rookie of the Year voting back in 2005, then was on a different team by 2007 and playing his final major league games by 2010? That was a quick deterioration. Anyway, Jose Altuve worked a leadoff walk, then was immediately erased on a double play and it was a 0-2-3 inning.
Top of the second: Brandon Lyon
Not as big a disaster, considering how bad things could have gone. But it’s still subpar relief pitching. A Dee Gordon lead-off single and an Austin Nola homer make it 7-0.
Bottom of the second: Richard Hidalgo
Clearly, this wasn’t anywhere as bad as the first inning. A run actually scored, after all. But after how good things looked early…Yordan Álvarez reached on a tough error up the middle, Yuli Gurriel doubled, then Yordan scored on a wild pitch. Aledmys Diaz followed that up with a walk. So we had one run and runners on the corners with no outs recorded. A pop-up and a double play later, and that was that. Much like Hidalgo, who had an OPS over .950 in 2000 and 2003, then was out of the game at the age of 30 after 2005.
Top of the third: J.D. Martinez
It was a rough start for Cy Sneed, with an inherited runner scoring in the first and two more coming in in the third, but he finally broke through and put it all together with a nine-pitch, 1-2-3 inning. A little late, but better late than never.
Bottom of the third: Jose Cruz
The early big-offensive moment for the Astros, with Reddick and Altuve both singling the other way and Alex Bregman doubling them both in. It wasn’t as big as the moments that came later, as two runners were still stranded, but it was really impressive at the time, and making it 7-3 was an important first step.
Top of the fourth: Mike Scott
A new pitcher rolled into town and brought the Astros their biggest taste of success yet, as the Astros acquired Scott from the Mets in 1983 and rode his Cy Young in 1986 (the first in team history) to the playoffs. Jose Urquidy isn’t quite up to that level, but he does come in this inning and record a one-walk, no-hit inning en route to the longest outing for any Astros pitcher on the night.
Bottom of the fourth: Jimmy Wynn
You’d expect a team with a center fielder the quality of Wynn to do better, but the Astros took ten years with him to even break .500, and he left town one year later with only two winning seasons under his belt. Similarly, you’d expect the Astros to be able to score here with a one-out walk to Robinson Chirinos, a single from Jose Reddick, and the top of the order coming up. It didn’t happen, though.
Top of the fifth: Adam Everett
Overall a solid 1-2-3 inning, and Yuli Gurriel even added a nice play. All glove shortstops aren’t gonna bring you back from defecits, but they’re still good to have around and keep things from getting worse.
Bottom of the fifth: Brett Wallace
A walk and nothing else this inning. Seems like a good fit for Brett Wallace, who had a decent eye but never really hit above the minors.
Top of the sixth: Larry Dierker
Another 1-2-3 inning for Jose Urquidy. For continuing to soak up innings here, we’ll give him ‘Stros all-time inning pitched leader Dierker.
Bottom of the sixth: Jeff Bagwell
A pair of home runs and a single! Kyle Tucker hits his first major league home run, Josh Reddick adds his first since June 28th (also against the Mariners), and Michael Brantley singles the other way to break an 0-17 streak. Michael wound up stranded, but it’s still 7-5. That’s a lot of homers and good hitting, so Bagwell seems apropos.
Top of the seventh: Carlos Lee
Like giving a big contract to an older, big-bat outfielder, I can at least kind of see the reasoning. You need a lot of bullpen arms tonight, and Urquidy only had 38 pitches through three innings. But a second time through the lineup was playing with fire. Austin Nola got to him and hit his second homer of the game to make it 8-5. Just a little too long, but it went wrong in the predictable way, and the team was a little worse off for it.
Bottom of the seventh: Marc Krauss
Offense would happen after this inning was over, but nothing at all happened for the Astros in the bottom of the seventh.
Top of the eighth: Randy Johnson
Joe Biagini made a short appearance, and struck out two batters in another 1-2-3 inning before moving on, much like The Big Unit’s short, strikeout-filled 1998 cameo.
Bottom of the eighth: Craig Biggio
Reaching base and scoring any way they could, the Astros finally draw even with Seattle at 8. Chirinos gets hit by a pitch, Reddick works a walk off a full count, then Altuve tripled them both in. Brantley hit a sac fly to bring in the third and final run. It’s enough to remind you of a certain scrappy, hit-by-pitch magnet.
Top of the ninth: Brad Lidge
Another scoreless inning for the pen, but not without concern. Dylan Moore got a leadoff single and stole second, but Joe Smith got two outs and Roberto Osuna was brought in to strike out Kyle Seager. I begin to worry about running out of players to use should this game go extras, but then I remember that the Astros have not exactly had a shortage of mercurial relievers who could, even when they were on, close down a game while making you sweat along the way.
Top of the tenth: Octavio Dotel
A one-out walk to Dan Vogelbach ultimately went nowhere. See the top of the ninth for the reasoning here.
Top of the eleventh: Billy Wagner
This one was an actual shutdown inning, as Héctor Rondón sent Seattle down in order. Therefore, it gets the Astros’ all-time closer as its representative.
Bottom of the ninth through the eleventh: Chris Carter
The Astros didn’t strike out while batting in this game until two out in the seventh. These three inning represented an abrupt shift, with the Astros going 0-9 with 8 Ks against the M’s bullpen.
Top of the twelfth: Ken Giles
Josh James came in and gave up Kyle Seager’s second home run of the game. He also struck out two, but you know, that doesn’t really cancel out the homer.
Bottom of the twelfth: Marwin Gonzalez
A corner outfielder driving in a run to tie things and force (more) extra innings in a back-and-forth game? Sounds a bit like Marwin Gonzalez in Game 2 of the 2017 World Series. After Yuli works a walk, Myles Straw comes in to run and takes second on a ground out. Kyle Tucker then singles him in with two outs. It’s good to see the Astros stay in it, but I again begin to worry that I will run out of players to use.
Top of the thirteenth: Charlie Morton
Josh James stays in, and things go smoother this time, with him striking out the side. It reminds me of another strikeout-inducing starter turning in a clutch relief appearance.
Bottom of the thirteenth: Chris Burke
There’s only one comparison for an Astros’ walk-off home run deep in extra innings. Michael Brantley hits his 20th home run of the year (tying his previous career best) to send everyone home happy.
With that, the comeback was complete. Astros win, 11-9. Houston is now 91-50 on the year, just a game behind the Yankees and half a game behind the Dodgers for best record in the majors. Their lead in the AL West is now 9.0 games, and their magic number is down to 14. Join us again tomorrow at 7 PM Central time for a (hopefully, shorter) game 2 of this series. Framber Valdez will start for Houston, a pitcher may or may not start for Seattle, nobody knows yet. Good night!