It feels like the Astros never have a fair chance in extra innings. After all, the only weakness this team has is its bullpen, and after twenty straight games without a day off, the deficiency was especially acute today going into the tenth inning tied 3-3.
It took stellar pitching by Zack Greinke and three RBI by rookie Chas McCormick, filling in for injured Kyle Tucker, one of five Astros starters unable to play today, just to get the Astros into extra innings to begin with.
But thanks to a lot of luck and a little hustle, the Astros pulled one out today in extras.
The game started out a pitching duel between Zack Greinke and Cal Quantrill, but the Astros finally broke through against Quantrill in the fourth inning when Myles Straw led off with a single, followed by a Jason Castro walk with two outs. Chas McCormick then collected his first of three RBI with a ground single to center.
The Indians answered in the fifth with a little fielding help by the Astros. It started with Zack Greinke’s only walk to Bobby Bradley to lead off the inning. Harold Ramirez followed with an infield single to Abraham Toro, the second hit by the Indians up to that point, both questionable infield singles to Toro.
Toro looked to second after fielding the ball and decided not to throw there. By the time he made his throw to first it was too late.
A sacrifice bunt by Roberto Perez put Bradley on third with one out, and Bradley scored on a Bradley Zimmer ground out.
The Astros regained the lead in the sixth thanks again to rookie Chas McCormick, who hit a two-run opposite-field blast to right field, his tenth homer of the season in only 153 PA’s up to that point.
The Indians regained a run in the bottom of the sixth with an Eddie Rosario solo homer.
They tied the score in the eighth with a Cesar Hernandez homer deep into the right-field stands.
The final card on Greinke was 7.2 innings pitched, three runs, five hits, one walk, and eight strikeouts. The home run to Rosario was underwhelming, an off-balance swing on a good curve that barely cleared the right-field fence at 90.7 MPH. The fifth inning run off Greinke was a cheapie. The only time the Indians bats really got to Greinke was the eighth inning homer. Otherwise, it was vintage Greinke at his best, keeping the Indians off-balance all day.
Despite the game-tying Hernandez homer in the eighth, the baseball gods blessed the Astros in extra innings.
The game’s winning run was scored by an Astro player who struck out. Leadoff hitter Yuli Gurriel got on first after his swinging strike was misplayed by catcher Roberto Perez on a wild pitch by Emmanuel Chase. Myles Straw, who started the inning at second, advanced to third.
It seemed the Indians would escape damage when third baseman Ernie Clement, who had been robbing Astros hitters all day, robbed Carlos Correa of a hit and manage to get Straw out at third in a rundown. Gurriel took second on the play. Correa was at first.
But luck turned once again in the Astros’ favor when Jason Castro barely managed to avoid grounding into a double play, and on the throw back to first pitcher Emmanuel Chase failed to catch the relay from second.
In what is probably the hustle play of the season Gurriel scored from second on the error, barely beating the throw from first.
Astros' luck continued into the bottom half of the tenth.
The exhausted Astros bullpen turned to Brooks Raley to save the win. (You Astros fans all know how you felt about that). But on the first pitch from Raley, Roberto Perez popped out directly to Raley, who quickly threw to second for a 1 -6 double play. Raley closed out the win with a 3-2 strikeout of Oscar Mercado.
Kudos to Raley. Amazing play.
The Astros swept the Indians at Progressive Field. They did this despite having half of their regular starters out due to injuries or paternity leave. In this 20 game stretch without a day off the Astros were 15-5.
The Astros have a much-needed day off tomorrow,
Box score and video HERE.