On Sunday afternoon, everyone did their part and the Astros got a 2-1 victory against the Mariners to avoid the sweep. Houston was lifted by a solid performance by starter Luis García, an outstanding job by their bullpen, and a clutch hit from Yordan Álvarez’s bat. An agonic, game-ending double play with bases loaded sealed things up for the Astros to become the second AL club to reach 30 wins in 2022.
Things began well for Houston on Sunday. García was dominating to a point in which he kept a no-hitter going until the first hitter of the sixth inning and Jeremy Peña put the Astros ahead in the score, thanks to a solo homer in the second for his eighth long ball of the campaign.
Peña keeps swinging well in May. The rookie shortstop is hitting for a .356 batting average (26-for-73) this month, along with three doubles, four home runs, and 13 runs batted in over 21 games (20 starts).
Going back to García, he left his rough patch behind with a quality start –the first one of his career against the Mariners— of six innings, four hits, and one earned run. He gave up a walk and six strikeouts.
In the sixth, the Mariners scored their lone run of the game, via an RBI single from Ty France to tie the score.
García saw his outing come to an end after allowing two consecutive singles to start the seventh. With a tough scenario, Dusty Baker brought in the guy that has arguably been the Astros’ best reliever so far: Rafael Montero. The righty got Adam Frazier on a sacrifice bunt and struck out Mike Ford and Luis Torrens to strand two runners and get the huge zero.
After one out in the eighth, Martín Maldonado had a fantastic at-bat against starter Marco Gonzales. Martín fell down 0-2 in the count, but he got three straight balls, fouled two more, and –in the eighth pitch of the plate appearance— he hit a ground-rule double that was the spark for Houston.
Then, with two outs, reliever Paul Sewald gave up walks to Michael Brantley and Alex Bregman to face Yordan with bases loaded. Álvarez didn’t waste the chance and delivered a hard one-run single to make it 2-1.
After Héctor Neris recorded three outs for a scoreless eighth, Ryan Pressly made us sweat. He surrendered a single and two walks to load the bases with only one out, but Pressly used what has been the most dominant pitch of his career: with a third consecutive slider, he got Luis Torrens to hit for an electrifying double play.
On Monday, the Astros will stay on the road to begin a three-game series against the Athletics. Framber Valdez is expected to pitch for Houston while Paul Blackburn will do the same for the A’s.