The toll of 16 straight games finally hit.
If ever the Astros needed a long outing by the starter to give rest to the bullpen, it was tonight. Instead, the usually durable Jose Urquidy had to leave the game in the second inning due to injury, exposing an already stretched and tired (not to say incompetent) bullpen to hungry Oriole bats.
And at just the time when the batting pendulum was on the down swing after a string of recent hitting prowess of historic proportions.
The Orioles struck like lightning in the first. The lead-off hitter and likely All Star Cedric Mullin took Urquidy deep on the second pitch of the game to give the O’s an early 1-0 lead.
The Astros managed to tie the score in the second with only one hit despite getting four baserunners. Carlos Correa led off the inning with a walk and advanced to second base on a wild pitch and third on a balk.
Correa then scored on a sac fly by Abraham Toro.
Following Toro the Astros managed to load the bases on two walks and a hit by pitch, but they were stranded by a Michael Brantley pop up.
The Orioles re-assumed the lead in the fifth with two runs after a passed ball put runners on second and third, and then Austin Hays knocked them in with a single to left.
But the Astros tied the score in the bottom of the fifth on a two RBI single by Abraham Toro after Yordan Alvarez and Carlos Correa advanced into scoring position on a Kyle Tucker long fly ball.
The O’s took the lead again in the seventh when the lead-off hitter singled and got to third after a Ralph Garza wild pitch and a long fly by Austin Wynns. Garza was replaced by Ryne Stanek, who promptly allowed a Cedric Mullins double.
This was just the beginning of Stanek’s troubles. He allowed five runs in the eight, allowing a solo homer, two walks, a single and a double. The fourth and fifth runs scored on singles allowed by Stanek’s relief Blake Taylor.
In the ninth inning Manager Dusty Baker wove the white flag, putting utility infielder Robel Garcia in to pitch. The Orioles took batting practice, scoring four more runs on two homers, a double, and two singles.
At least Garcia didn’t walk anyone. His bullpen comrades walked five, but that’s nothing compared to the O’s staff who walked nine, after walking ten last night. And yet the Astros could only muster three runs, getting only one hit with runners in scoring position out of eight chances, and leaving 12 runners on base.
Meanwhile, the Orioles got 16 hits, two doubles, four homers, with six of the hits with runners in scoring position. Cedric Mullins was 4-5 with a double and a homer.
The only bright spot in tonight’s game was the pitching of Andre Scrubb, who had 2.2 scoreless innings after Urquidy’s departure. (but 3 walks)
Luis Garcia tries to set the Stros back on track at 7:10 tomorrow.
Box score and videos HERE.