Just a few days ago it looked like the Astros were limping into the playoffs, backing in like sitting ducks, choose your own mixed metaphor. But this weekend changed all that. They aren’t backing into the playoffs. They are exploding in, heads first, bats bashing.
Where to start.
How about Yuli Gurriel? He did not back into the batting title, going 3-5 in the last two games, including the walk-off, pinch-hit, first-pitch single to win game 162 against the A’s. He finished the season hitting .319.
What about Jose Altuve? He was 6-10 in his last two games, with his 31st homer and two doubles.
Carlos Correa got his career-high 26th homer in the eighth inning today. Yordan Alvarez got his 33rd home yesterday, and his ninth-inning double today positioned Jason Castro on third for the Gurriel walk-off.
And speaking of Castro. More last-inning, pinch-hit heroics. He led off the ninth with a single, eventually scoring the winning run.
What about Kyle Tucker? Since May 1, the youngster is arguably the best hitter in all baseball. He hit the 30 home run milestone today with a two-run job in the seventh, scoring Altuve.
Today’s game started as a tit for tat home run derby, with the A’s starting the action with a Seth Brown homer off Astros starter Jose Urquidy.
In the bottom of the second, the Astros answered with a Chas Mccormick solo dinger, his 14th.
In the third, it was The As’ turn, as Tony Kemp continued his revenge tour against the Astros with a solo homer to the Crawford Boxes.
And of course, the Astros answered in the bottom of the third when the other Astro rookie phenom outfielder, Jake Meyer, answered both Kemp and Chas with a solo shot of his own.
In the fifth, the A’s took the lead again when Kemp sac flied Luis Barrera home who singled earlier, giving the A’s a 3-2 lead.
But in the 6th inning, the Astros would take their first lead on Tucker’s two-run homer.
Altuve would add to the lead with an RBI double in the 7th. And Correa would seemingly put the game out of reach for the Stros with his solo homer in the eighth.
Seemingly, because Zack Greinke, just off IL and who came in for Urquidy in the seventh inning, seemed to be dealing. But with no outs in the ninth, Greinke gave up a two-run homer to Seth Brown, his second of the game, to get the A’s to within one run. Greinke left the game, and then Blake Taylor allowed the A’s to tie the game on a Kris Davis homer.
All of which merely set the stage for Yuli Gurriel to stake undisputed claim to the batting title by ending the season with a walk-off hit.
This was the 10th walk-off win for the Astros this year, and their 863 runs led the league in 2021. Their 95 wins were second in the AL behind the Tampa Bay Rays.
Thursday the Astros welcome their next victims, the Chicago White Sox, to Minute Maid Park for Game 1 of the ALDS.