It’s a good thing the Astros have the road-field advantage for the rest of the season. They just might have a chance for the playoffs after all. Was this the same team tonight that sleep-walked its way to a recent 3-9 tailspin?
After getting swept by the last-place Royals at home this weekend, tonight two solo homers and perhaps the best pitching we’ve seen from Justin Verlander since his 2019 no-hitter put the Mariners a game and a half behind the Astros for the third Wild Card berth.
Although the Astros looked up to their abysmal at home-hitting ways in the first inning by stranding Yordan Alvarez at second, in the second inning, the Astros played like the season was on the line. (Well, better late than never)
Jose Abreu led off with a triple, but after the next two batters failed to score him, it began to look like the Astros were still playing the Royals at home.
But Mauricio Dubon hit a single just like his walk-off last Wednesday, scoring Abreu, then Martin Maldonado doubled home Dubon, and Jose Altuve singled in Maldonado.
And all against one of the AL’s best starters, Luis Castillo. When was the last time the Astros had an early three-run lead?
The Astros added another in the third when Yordan took out his driver and golfed a solo shot into the right-center seats.
It was #30 for Alvarez.
It looked like the Mariners could get it all back in their half of the third with Julio Rodriguez up with the bases loaded. But he hit a rocket one-hopper to Jermey Pena that he and Altuve converted into an inning-ending double play.
In the sixth inning, the Astros padded their lead on a solo shot by Kyle Tucker that hit the upper deck in right field.
For Tucker, it was his 29th homer to go with 29 stolen bases.
Justin Verlander was clutch. In a playoff-like situation, he looked like the Justin Verlander who held the Yankees to one run in nine innings in the 2017 ALCS.
He only made it to eight tonight and was removed after the leadoff hitter doubled in the ninth. That runner scored on reliever Bryan Abreu, which left Verlander's line at eight innings pitched, one run, eight K’s, one walk, and only three hits.
If the Astros make the playoffs after this recent tailspin, we’ll remember this game, and we’ll say the Verlander trade was worth it after all.