Tonight, the Astros took the first game of the 3-game series in Anaheim, seemingly snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, but then turning around and immediately snatching victory right back.
Before the Astros’ defense had a total meltdown in the seventh inning, the game seemed safely in hand thanks to shut-down pitching by Luis Garcia, and big hits and quality at-bats from Aledmys Diaz.
The Astros took a quick 2-0 lead when Diaz homered home Jose Altuve, who had led off with a walk against Angels starter Noah Syndergaard and had just stolen second base.
The Angels took one back in their half of the first without a hit when Astros starter Luis Garcia had trouble finding the strike zone. Although he walked three batters and loaded the bases with one out, Garcia escaped serious trouble by allowing only the one run on a fielder’s choice.
The Astros again increased their lead to two in the third inning on an Alex Bregman single, scoring Aledmys Diaz, who walked.
The Astros added two more in the sixth on a two-run, two-out single by Altuve on a 3-2 count.
After the first inning Astros starter Garcia zeroed in, going five more innings without allowing a run, giving up only one hit while striking out seven Angels total. He retired the last thirteen batters he faced.
But the Astros’ defense completely collapsed in the seventh inning with two errors and a passed ball allowing the Angels to score four unearned runs with only one hit to tie the score.
Astros reliever Phil Maton got the first batter of the inning to ground out, but he walked Luis Rengifo. Max Stassi then hit a weak grounder to Maton with double-play possibilities. But instead of a double play, Maton threw the ball away.
Jonathon Villar next hit a grounder to Alex Bregman who, like Maton, went for the double play by throwing to second, and like Maton, threw the ball away, loading the bases. The Angels scored their first run of the inning when Maton hit Brandon Marsh with a pitch.
Manager Dusty Baker replaced Maton with Rafael Montero who struck out the next batter and seemed poised to put out the fire. But pinch hitter David MacKinnon hit a two-run single to get the Halos to within one run, and then catcher Martin Maldonado committed a passed ball to tie the score at 5-5.
But like good pros, the Astros did not let their poor play affect their morale. In the ninth inning, they managed to score the go-ahead run. Altuve led off with a walk, went to third on a Diaz single (who was 2-3 with two walks, two RBI, and two runs), and scored on the Kyle Tucker game-winning double.
However, the Astros stranded the bases loaded with no outs after the Angels intentionally walked Alex Bregman.
Overall the Astros stranded 10 batters for the game and were only 4-17 with runners in scoring position, making the game closer than it should have been, even with the fielding miscues.
But it was good enough. Ryan Pressly completely shut down the Angels in the bottom of the ninth. compiling two Ks and his 19th save of the year to preserve the Astros’ 6-5 win in the first game of the series in Anaheim.
The two teams face off again tomorrow night at 8:38 CT. Cristian Garcia faces the mighty Shohei Ohtani.