Minute Maid Park West was not the place to be late Saturday evening for the Houston Astros. After giving up six runs over the final three innings to drop Game 1 of a doubleheader at Angel Stadium in Anaheim in which the Astros traditionally served as the road team, they were awarded “home team” status in the nightcap. It was the makeup from a game postponed in Houston on Aug. 26 due to the impending arrival of Hurricane Laura. The Astros flexed their muscles early but the bullpen once again could not protect a pair of leads. For the second time in less than four hours, the Angels scored three runs in the seventh inning for a comeback victory, though the teams were switched around on the scoreboard this time.
It was a matchup of two pitchers making their season debuts. In his first outing that counted since he dominated the Nationals in Game 4 of the World Series last Oct. 26, Jose Urquidy was splendid through the first three innings, allowing just a hit and two walks while keeping the Angels off the board.
Lefty Dillon Peters got the ball for the Halos in his season debut, and George Springer greeted him rather rudely. The Astros leadoff man smashed the second pitch over the wall in left-center for the 37th leadoff homer of his career, tying Ichiro Suzuki for eighth on the all-time list.
The floodgates opened in the bottom of the second with help from Justin Upton misplaying a fly ball hit by Kyle Tucker to open the frame. Carlos Correa followed with a single and then Josh Reddick unloaded his third home run of the season, a majestic three-run blast to right. Two outs later, Peters was done for the evening after surrendering four runs in just 1.2 innings.
Urquidy ran into trouble in the fourth, with Trout naturally getting things started. He roped a leadoff double before scoring two batters later on a base hit by Albert Pujols. Urquidy then gave up another hit followed by a walk to bring up Franklin Barreto with the bases loaded. Barreto ripped a ground ball that appeared ticketed for left field, but Carlos Correa made a diving stop and fired to first for the out. A run did score on the play, and Dusty Baker pulled Urquidy in favor of Brad Peacock, who himself was making his first appearance of the season for the Astros after being activated from the injured list. Jose Briceno greeted him by roping a line drive to left field, where Kyle Tucker continued the web gems with a terrific sliding catch.
Peacock returned to the hill for the fifth inning and allowed the first two batters to reach. Both of them scored when Pujols blooped a two-run single to right, giving him 175 career RBI against Houston. Remember the NLCS in 2004 and 2005?
Jo Adell robbed Springer of a home run to begin the first game of the twin bill but fell just short in the fifth inning of the nightcap. With Jack Mayfield on second base, Springer hit a towering fly ball to left-center that went off the glove of a leaping Adell and over the fence for a two-run homer, putting Houston back in front 6-4.
Humberto Castellanos was recalled to serve as the 29th man on the roster for Saturday’s doubleheader and he could not have gotten off to a better start in his outing, striking out the side in order in the sixth.
Houston was still leading by two entering the top of the seventh, when Upton and Trout reached base with one out. Anthony Rendon was a major reason why the Astros did not win their second championship in three seasons last year, and he struck again. Rendon smoked a go-ahead three-run homer to left, giving the Halos a 7-6 lead and sending the crowd at Angel Stadium into hysteria. Just kidding with the last part.
The bottom of the seventh was surprisingly routine, as Ty Buttrey set down the side in order to hand the Astros their third consecutive defeat in Anaheim.
When totaling up ties and lead changes, it appears as if the two teams were playing basketball on Saturday. There were five ties and seven lead changes throughout 14 innings of action.
The doubleheader loss, combined with an Oakland win over San Diego, leaves the Astros 3.5 games behind the first place A’s in the AL West.
Sunday’s series finale features a good pitching matchup with southpaw Framber Valdez (3-2, 2.58) getting the ball for the Astros, opposed by Angels right-hander Jaime Barria (0-0, 2.63). The game is scheduled to get underway at 1:10 p.m. PT with more record heat expected in Anaheim and Houston trying to avoid a series sweep.