The magical fifth inning was enough for the Astros to snap their four-game losing streak and keep first place in the AL West. Thanks to a five-run rally, Houston defeated the Indians 7-2 on Thursday night.
The Astros struggled to hit against righty JC Mejía in the first third of the game. The Indians’ starter hung up three zeroes to begin the game and finished the third inning up by two runs. But the offense put it all together since the fourth episode when Yordan Álvarez hit a solo moonshot to center field for his 14th homer of the year.
Still with Houston down 2-1 on the score, the top fifth kicked off with a double from Myles Straw’s bat and a walk to Jason Castro. Then, with Mejía unable to make the throw to first, Robel García reached base on a sac bunt to leave the bases loaded. Immediately, our beloved second baseman did his thing: GRAND SLAM on a line drive near the left field pole to put the Astros ahead by three runs (5-2).
For Altuve, who reached his 600th-career RBI (just the eighth player to get to that number with the Astros), it was his second grand salami of the season and fifth of his MLB career. It was also his first four-bagger since June 23.
The Altuve bomb was perfect for supporting starter Framber Valdez, who struggled with his command and was hit hard in his first innings. However, Valdez completed seven innings of four-hit, two-run ball to lower his ERA to 2.18. He walked five hitters and struck out six Indians. Framber, who retired five men in a row to end his night, got his fifth win of the season (5-1).
After Altuve’s grand slam, everything was under control for the Astros. Michael Brantley hit a solo shot in the seventh to increase the lead, Peter Solomon threw the eighth inning, and Ryan Pressly came up in a non-save situation and got the last three outs to secure the win.
The second game of the series will occur on Friday night (7:10 pm ET) with Lance McCullers Jr. on the mound. McCullers Jr. will try to overcome his bad experience at Progressive Field, where he’s gone 0-2, 11.57 ERA, with three home runs in 9 1/3 career episodes (two starts).