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Pitcher Duel Ends in 2-1, 12-inning Defeat for Houston

Luis Garcia’s heroics weren’t enough to lift Houston on Saturday night.

MLB: Houston Astros at Los Angeles Angels Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Astros dropped a 2-1, 12-inning affair on the road with 38,244 in the house at Angel Stadium.

Early in the afternoon, I was doing a little bit of statistical scouting in preparation for tonight’s recap. Imagine my surprise when I initially saw that Houston was an even pick over the Angels, at 50-50. A cursory glance showed why:

Shohei Ohtani (11-8, 2.67) got the start against the Astros, his fourth this season. Although he’s been pretty good this season against Houston, coming in he’s a relatively pedestrian 2-3 with a 4.21 ERA over his five-season career vs. our boys. Luis Garcia (11-8, 4.14) would be defending the Astros’ honor from the hill. He would do pretty well.

Also of statistical note was Houston’s chance to make .500 as a franchise. With a victory, they would boast a 4,811-4,811 record. It wouldn’t be the first time, believe it or not. They started off as the Houston Colt .45’s with a 6-5 record before falling (eventually) nearly 200 games below the watermark. They recovered to clear the .500 mark in 2005, eventually closing the 2008 campaign at 3,748-3,747 before the wheels came off for several seasons.

Garcia surrendered a pair of doubles to David Fletcher, and Ohtani kept Houston off the bath paths completely until Yuli Gurriel hit a seeing-eye single to the right side with one out in the fourth inning. Otherwise, there were no other baserunners until the fifth.

Trey Mancini doubled off the right-center wall with a pair of outs in the fifth off Ohtani, marking the first Astro in scoring position. He came home a moment later on a J.J. Matijevic single to give Houston a 1-0 lead.

Houston mounted a further threat in the sixth, loading the bases on Ohtani with a pair of singles and either a hit batsman or a questionable catcher’s interference call. Gameday says HBP, so we go with that. Unfortunately, with two outs already, Christian Vazquez flew out to right field to end the rally before it started.

After six very good frames, Garcia started to crack in the seventh, giving up a single to Luis Rengifo and a walk to Taylor Ward before collecting an out. A pair of sac flies moved the runners from first and second to Rengifo in and Ward on third to tie the score at one for Max Stassi. Stassi flew out harmlessly, ending Garcia’s night.

In the eighth, Altuve hit a one-out double up the right-field line. It was one pitch after Ohtani put a 100.2 MPH sinker over the inside corner that probably should have been strike three. Altuve was stranded at second base after Gurriel and Alex Bregman each flew out.

After the ninth inning would see the two clubs combine for zero baserunners, the 10th opened with Mauricio Dubon on second, pinch-running for Mancini. David Hensley pinched in for Matijevic and struck out on three pitches. With two out, Jeremy Peña reached first on an infield single, moving Dubon to third, but Altuve couldn’t plate Dubon, grounding into a fielders choice to end the frame.

After Neris got through his half of the 10th, Altuve opened the 11th as the phantom runner. Gurriel grounded out to the pitcher, failing to move Altuve. Altuve then stole third, and Bregman struck out. Vazquez lined out to left to end the inning, giving the Angels a third shot at the walk-off.

Phil Maton came in to pitch the 11th inning and try to give Houston another chance, and aside from an intentional walk to Ohtani, got through the frame unscathed.

On to the 12th, phantom runner Vazquez took third on a Rengifo throwing error, which also allowed Dubon to reach with nobody out. With runners on the corners, and nobody out....Hensley grounded into a double play and Vazquez failed to score. Vazquez was then stranded on third.

Anaheim’s half of the 12th ended with two outs when Matt Duffy singled home ghost runner Taylor Ward with the game-winner.


Just a Few Things

  • The in-game microphones were doing a good job of picking up crowd chatter whenever Altuve came to the dish, a little too good. I was getting uncomfortable hearing the hateful spew of degenerate Angels fans, who I thought were better than that. I thought Californians were more evolved? Guess not.
  • Ohtani was nearly the second Angels hitter to hit safely in the game with a two-out single in the bottom of the sixth. Wisely, however, the Astros elected to review the play. The two-way star was out by a hair.
  • Garcia struck out seven over as many innings, giving up only three hits, two walks, and one earned run to drop his ERA to 3.99. His 72 GameScore is his second best mark of the season after his 74 on May 6, in a 3-2 win over Detroit. He left with a tie score in this one, and a chance at victory. He earned no decision instead, putting 61-of-94 pitches over the plate.
  • Ohtani’s “new” pitch is just unfair on top of everything else. It’s damn filthy. He threw 111 pitches on a 95° night, plating 80 of them, striking out five, walking nobody, and surrendering one run on six hits. His GameScore was 71. This guy, amirite?
  • Ryne Stanek pitched a scoreless eighth. Despite walking Mike Trout with two outs, he then induced a Ohtani groundout to Gurriel, unassisted.
  • Jose Quijada worked a 1-2-3 ninth, striking out Kyle Tucker and Mancini. The Angels left him in for the 10th, which seems counterintuitive for a reliever after roster expansion in the Manfred-runner era. The gambit paid off when Quijada collected two more outs before getting relieved by Jimmy Herget.
  • Bryan Abreu came on to relieve Stanek, and even though every hitter got to a 3-2 count, he worked a 1-2-3 ninth of his own.
  • Hector Neris struck out Stassi with one out and the runner on third in the bottom half of the 10th, then extended the game to the 11th by getting Fletcher to fly out to right field.
  • Man, Altuve really wanted to score in the 11th, but he couldn’t do it by himself.

Thanks for reading. We’ll try this again tomorrow.