Looking for a doubleheader sweep and their ninth consecutive home win, the Astros instead had things go awry immediately after taking the field on Tuesday night. Brandon Bielak was starting on just two days’ rest, hoping to atone for a disastrous outing at San Diego on Saturday in which he threw only 28 pitches but surrendered seven earned runs. There was reason for optimism though, as Bielak fired six one-hit innings against the Rockies the last time he toed the rubber at Minute Maid Park.
Unfortunately for the Astros, this outing for Bielak was very similar to the one at Petco Park. He did not get out of the first inning, throwing 35 pitches to eight batters and giving up four runs in just two-thirds of a frame. Bielak had a chance to get out of the first unscathed, but a two-out walk to Andrelton Simmons loaded the bases for Brian Goodwin, who ripped a two-run single to right, and then a third crossed the plate when Josh Reddick misplayed the ball in right field. Jo Adell followed with an RBI double and then a walk ended Bielak’s evening as Cy Sneed entered from the bullpen. The damage on Bielak’s line could have been worse if not for an outstanding diving catch by left fielder Kyle Tucker on a sharp line drive hit by Luis Rengifo to end the mess.
It was a long night for Houston, as the Angels struck early and often to earn a 12-5 victory in a seven-inning game that lasted a whopping 3:23. The early command issues were a theme throughout the game with the Astros pitching staff issuing a total of ten free passes.
Sneed worked 1.2 scoreless frames, Brooks Raley surrendered a solo homer to Luis Rengifo in the fourth and Andre Scrubb gave up another run on a fifth-inning sacrifice fly, putting the Astros in a 6-0 hole.
Angels starter Julio Teheran entered the game with an ugly 10.38 ERA through four appearances, but looked as if he was turning the clock back to his All-Star days with the Atlanta Braves after the first four frames. He allowed only a single to Yuli Gurriel, who was then immediately erased on a lineout double play.
Houston’s offense finally got to Teheran in the fifth. Gurriel led off with his second hit in a row, then Kyle Tucker split the gap in right-center with yet another triple, his fourth three-bagger since Aug. 19. Tucker came into score on a sacrifice fly by Josh Reddick before Abraham Toro stepped in and crushed an opposite-field solo shot to left, his third long ball of the season. The lightning off Toro’s bat cut the lead in half to 6-3 and spelled the end of the night for Teheran. Felix Pena took over and the rally continued. Dustin Garneau took a four-pitch walk, went to second base on a wild pitch and crossed the plate on a seeing-eye base hit by Myles Straw to make it a two-run ballgame.
Hopes of a late comeback were dashed in the sixth when the combination of Chase De Jong and Blake Taylor allowed four consecutive baserunners to begin the inning. A leadoff walk was followed by singles from Mike Trout, Tommy La Stella and David Fletcher - the latter two driving in runs.
The Angels broke the game further open in the seventh on another RBI single by Fletcher, a wild pitch and a two-run double by Shohei Ohtani. All of that damage came against Joe Biagini, forcing manager Dusty Baker to bring in Humberto Castellanos to finish the inning as his eighth pitcher of the night.
Dustin Garneau provided a highlight in the bottom of the seventh, belting a two-out solo homer for his first blast as an Astro. Tucker finished 2-for-3 - the only Houston player to register multiple knocks in the nightcap.
There were nearly identical aspects of the twinbill in the sense that in both contests, one team jumped out to a big first-inning lead, one starting pitcher was dominant through four innings before being hit around in the fifth. However, the Astros’ bullpen was able to hold serve with ease in Game 1 while both relief cores were hit around in Game 2 leading to a late slugfest.
An oddity of the nightcap is the fact both starting catchers were teammates in the minor leagues in a different organization. Garneau and Anthony Bemboom played together at Triple-A Albuquerque in the Rockies system in 2017.
As has been the case for many major league teams this year, the Astros will sit through multiple days off before their next game. Houston had been scheduled to host the Angels on Wednesday and Thursday, but both of those games have been postponed due to the expected landfall of Hurricane Laura. As of now, the Astros will welcome in the Oakland Athletics on Friday for the opener of a three-game series. If the game is able to be played without any further schedule restructuring due to the storm, Lance McCullers Jr. (2-2, 5.74) will take the hill against an A’s hurler to be determined. It will be a big series for Houston, as they trail Oakland by four games in the division at the conclusion of play on Tuesday night.
In terms of Wednesday’s postponed game, that contest will be made up on Sept. 5 as part of a doubleheader in Anaheim with the Astros serving as the home team and batting last in one of the games.
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