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Lame Bats Waste Javier Gem. Astros Go Down to LA in 13, 4-2

Dodgers sweep series 2-0

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Houston Astros Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

It was a pitcher’s duel tonight. The best offense in the American League against the best offense in the National League. And it was a pitcher’s duel tonight.

And to make it even more amazing both teams had rookies to start the game. For the Dodgers it was Dustin May, who in 2019 had only 34 innings pitched in the majors.

The Astros were even more desperate. Their starter, Cristian Javier, had only one major league inning under his belt prior to tonight; only 11 at AAA last year.

In 13 innings, the Astros used rookies to cover 11 of them. And in those 13 innings the Astros rookies allowed just four runs, only two of them earned.

Damn it. With half the veteran staff injured and almost all the available bullpen still under rookie status, you cannot expect better pitching than that. The bats have to come through in games like this, because this staff will seldom limit teams like the Dodgers to one run in nine innings.

One through three in the batting order were 1 for 16. The combined batting average of these three, Kyle Tucker, Jose Altuve, and Alex Bregman, is respectively, .188, .174, .174. Combined they stranded eight men on base. Add George Springer to the mix of failing hitters, a late game replacement batting 0.48, who struck out during extra innings to strand two more. Josh Reddick is another Astro regular hitting below the Mendoza line. He stranded five tonight.

All in all, the Astros were 3-19 with runners in scoring position and left 15 runners on base. In the four extra inning frames, with a runner starting each inning at second base, the Astros could only score one run against the weaker part of the Dodgers bullpen.

Presumably the Astros hitters will wake up. In the meantime we can hope that a star was born tonight. Cristian Javier, in 5.2 innings allowed just one run, with eight strikeouts and only one walk. He gave up two hits, one a second inning solo homer to Corey Seager. The other was a swinging bunt which he himself mishandled which should have been ruled an error. According to Statcast he allowed only two hard hit balls in his almost six innings of work.

The Astros answered the Dodger run in the top of the second with a freakish run of their own in the bottom of the second. With two outs and Michael Brantley on third, Myles Straw hit a routine ground ball to the right side. Routine, except Straw’s speed enabled him to beat the pitcher to first before the relay throw could arrive, giving Straw an RBI on an infield single.

That was the only Astros run of the game until extra innings.

After Javier left the game with two outs in the fifth, Blake Taylor pitched 2.1 scoreless innings. The only veteran pitcher to pitch for the Astros, Roberto Osuna, added two more scoreless.

In the top of the 11th the next pitcher, Cy Sneed, got two clean outs, but walked Max Muncy, to bring up Mookie Betts. Betts did Mookie things, doubling home the runner who started the inning on second. But Sneed got Justin Turner to fly out to end the inning with limited damage.

The Astros answered in the bottom of the 11th, and it looked like they might walk it off. They should have. Yuli Gurriel led off with a single, advancing pinch-runner Jack Mayfield to third. Carlos Correa, who with Michael Brantley is carrying the Astros’ offense right now, singled home Mayfield to tie the score, leaving men on first and second and no outs.

Abraham Toro then flied out, failing to advance the runners. Miles Straw next hit a grounder to third, who relayed the ball to second for the force out. Second baseman Kike Hernandez bobbled the ball on the exchange from the glove to the hand. To all appearances, after numerous replays, it seemed he never caught the ball, but the replay people ruled it an out at second.

If there had been a crowd at Minute Maid, they might have booed the roof off.

Myles Straw stole second unopposed right after, leaving runners on second and third. But George Springer struck out to end the inning as well as the golden opportunity to win the game.

The Dodgers and Astros went down quietly in the twelfth. But in the thirteenth inning Edwin Rios led off with a homer against Sneed, and with the runner on second to start the inning, it resulted in two runs scored.

In the bottom of the thirteenth the Astros started with promise with Yuli Gurriel walking to put the tying run on base. But last night’s adult in the room, Carlos Correa, ground into a double play, and Dustin Garneau ended the game striking out.

Who would have thought that a staff of mostly AA pitchers would be carrying the team right now. It’s not good enough boys.

Box score and videos HERE.