My original headline for this game was: “Cubs Bomb France.”
Oh, me of little faith. Never underestimate the heart of a champion.
OK. Astros rookie starter J.P. France sucked. This is probably what we should expect going forward. Before tonight, he allowed only one run in 11.2 innings. But tonight, in 3.2 innings, France gave up six runs, nine hits, two walks, three home runs, and 22 total bases while striking out only two. Two of the home runs were struck by Seiya Suzuki, a two-run job in the first and a solo shot in the third, both off France. Christopher Morel added another solo shot in the fourth.
Including last night, Suzuki homered in three consecutive at-bats.
But the Astros adapted and overcame.
It’s a great time for Alex Bregman to finally hit his accustomed mid-season stride. He got a run in the first with his second homer in three games.
With the Astros down 6-1 in the eighth, he got an RBI double and scored on a Jose Abreu single, getting the Astros to a 6-3 deficit but within striking distance for the lightning ninth.
It started with Yainier Diaz singling. Then Jake Meyers crushed a Keegan Thompson fastball high above the Crawford Boxes to get the Astros to 6-5.
Dusty Baker sent Mauricio Dubon to pinch hit for David Hensley (who thought that would happen before the season), and Dubon got a rare walk.
Jeremy Peña moved Dubon to third with a double down the left-field line. And just to show how good Bregman looks right now, the Cubs walked the bases loaded with no outs to get to Yordan Alvarez. And it worked, as Alvarez hit a weak grounder that forced Dubon out at home.
Furthermore, it looked like the lefty Brandon Hughes had Kyle Tucker’s number, too, getting two strikes before Tucker took an outside slider to center field off the end of his bat. Peña scored easily to tie the game, and Bregman slid in for the winning run, barely safe on an exciting play that was reviewed.
Kudos again to the bullpen. Seth Martinez, Ryne Stanek, Hector Neris, Bryan Abreu, and, yes, Rafael Montero shut down the Cubbies 5.1 innings after France’s departure. The Cubs wasted many opportunities, leaving 14 runners on base.
The Astros had 13 hits, with three each from Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker and two each from Peña, Diaz, and Meyers.
And all that without a hit from Yordan Alvarez, whose 40-game on-base streak ended on an 0-5 game with three Ks.
The Astros swept the series with this dramatic walk-off win and have now won four in a row and seven of their last eight. Plus, the Braves came back to beat the Rangers, getting the Astros to within two games of first in the AL West.
The Astros are off tomorrow.
They host the worst team in history (maybe), the Oakland A’s, this weekend.