It wasn’t pretty, but a win is a win. The Astros entered Sunday’s regular season home finale against Arizona desperately needing a victory to salvage a winning homestand against two poor teams in the Rangers and Diamondbacks. Arizona starter Madison Bumgarner delivered a throwback performance, but a pair of late home runs by George Springer (one conventional, one not so much) and a wild eighth inning by the Snakes bullpen allowed Houston to escape with a 3-2 triumph.
Pending the outcome of third-place Seattle’s game, the Astros have a 3.5 game lead over the Mariners for a second-place finish and a top six seed in the playoffs.
Houston put runners on the corners with two outs in the first but Gurriel grounded out to end the threat. Bumgarner activated cruise control from that point forward, and his team scored the first run in the fourth when Jose Urquidy coaxed Eduardo Escobar into a double-play grounder with the bases loaded. Urquidy’s quality work to limit the damage proved critical when Nick Ahmed ripped a solo homer in the fifth to give Arizona a 2-0 lead.
Bumgarner entered with an 8.53 ERA but worked five scoreless innings with seven punchouts. He was removed after five in favor of Taylor Widener, who George Springer greeted rather rudely. The Astros leadoff hitter hit a majestic drive off the top of the left-center field wall that caromed away, and Springer was able to score easily for his second career inside-the-park home run. Houston loaded the bags later in the inning but Joan Lopez came in to strike out Carlos Correa and preserve the Snakes’ advantage.
Time flies and so can George! #ForTheH pic.twitter.com/KgRq8nYHmI— Houston Astros (@astros) September 20, 2020
Surprise, surprise, Springer struck again in the bottom of the seventh. This solo homer cleared the fence, but just barely as Kole Calhoun nearly had a play on it in right field. Springer single-handedly tied the contest at 2, making for more late-inning drama at Minute Maid Park.
20 years and 2,000 homers at MMP! #ForTheH pic.twitter.com/sed8wmEmPe— Houston Astros (@astros) September 20, 2020
In the bottom of the eighth, Junior Guerra beaned Alex Bregman and walked Michael Brantley. After an out, Kyle Tucker walked to load the bases and Carlos Correa connected on the only ball to leave the infield in the frame - a go-ahead sacrifice fly to put Houston in front 3-2. Myles Straw whiffed to end the inning, but it was Ryan Pressly time with a one-run lead.
Calhoun provided a scare when he led off the ninth with a long drive to left field that was hauled in by Tucker on the warning track. Pressly then struck out Escobar and got Peralta to ground out, sealing his 11th save of the season.
The Astros finished their six-game homestand 4-2 despite not scoring more than four runs in any of the contests. They won three games by one run, including 3-2 victories over Arizona on Saturday and Sunday.
Houston will look to ride the momentum on the road, where they will play the final seven of the regular season, beginning with the opener of a three-game series on Monday night in Seattle. Lance McCullers Jr. (3-2, 4.87) will look to build off an outstanding effort against the Rangers, while the Mariners are expected to counter with Marco Gonzales (6-2, 3.49). First pitch is slated for 8:10 p.m. CT from the Puget Sound.