Baseball should change its scoring rules to count Yordan Alvarez as a runner in scoring position whenever he comes to bat. With the score tied 6-6 in the bottom of the ninth, with no one on base and two outs, every Astros fan knew that the winning run was already on the bases when Yordan came to bat.
He did not disappoint. On a 3-1 count he took Royals closer Scott Barlow 444 feet to right-center field to finish off the Astros comeback 7-6 win over the Kansas City Royals today on Independence Day.
It capped off a comeback from a 5-0 deficit created by Astros starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi, who managed only four innings pitched in his first start since IL, allowing five runs.
But despite the hole dug by Odorizzi, the Astros managed to crawl their way out of the deficit before exploding to final victory.
The Astros began to chip away on Royals starter Jonathon Heasley in the fourth inning when Kyle Tucker sac-flied Jeremy Pena. And in the fifth Jose Altuve added another run by hitting in Mauricio Dubon on an infield single.
The Astros broke out in the eighth inning with a lot of help from the Royals’ bullpen. Jeremy Pena, Alex Bregman, and Yordan Alvarez opened the inning with consecutive walks. Kyle Tucker then knocked a two-run single to center off Amir Garrett, followed by a Yuli Gurriel RBI single to tie the score at 6-6.
Ryne Stanek held the Royals in the ninth, setting the stage for the Alvarez monster blast to end the game.
Meanwhile, the enigma of Jake Odorizzi deepens.
After making the All-Star team in 2019 with the Minnesota Twins, racking up 15 wins, a 3.51 ERA, and over 10 Ks per nine innings, Odorizzi’s performance with the Astros declined precipitously in 2021.
He won only six games, seldom going past five innings in any game, and accumulated only 104 innings for the season. His ERA rose to 4.21, and his K/9 rate fell to 7.82.
After Odorizzi’s early start in 2022 the Astros fanbase and probably the coaching staff were ready to DFAs Odorizzi. After three starts Odorizzi’s ERA was an even 9.00, and in nine innings he allowed 12 hits, seven walks, with only five strikeouts. On April 20th against the Angels, he was knocked out of the game after getting only two outs.
Jake Odorizzi began to pitch like an ace. In his next four games, his ERA was 0.79, allowing only nine hits and five walks in 22,2 innings while striking out 17.
But in the sixth inning of his May 16th start in Boston Odorizzi simply collapsed from a mysterious leg injury. Today was his much-anticipated return to the mound. Would he reincarnate as bad Odorizzi, or would his second coming be immaculate?
The early returns are not encouraging. Odorizzi put the Astros in a deep[ hole. The weak-hitting Royals took batting practice on Odorizzi, getting nine hits and a walk while scoring two runs in each of the first two innings and another run in the third inning on a homer by MJ Melendez. (Melendez would hit another solo shot in the eighth off Phill Maton)
And it’s not like Odorizzi was facing an offensive juggernaut. His relief, rookie Seth Martinez, shut down the Royals for three innings, allowing only one hit with three strikeouts.
Of course, it’s only one game, and Odorizzi’s first one back from injury. And for today, who cares? The Astros keep winning, sometimes in miraculous fashion, this time for their seventh straight win and twelfth of their last fourteen games.
Going into today’s game the Astros were 13.5 games ahead of second-place Seattle in the AL West and 7.5 games ahead of Boston for the all-important overall second-place finish in the AL.
Tomorrow should be fun. Luis Garcia goes against Eephus specialist and former Astros Zack Greinke at 7:10 CT at Minute Maid.