Doug Fister (3-3, 4.54) versus Danny Salazar (3-2, 1.91)
I went back to see when the last time I wrote a recap was, and it's been nearly three years! Needless to say I may be rusty, so bear with me. We've all been truly spoiled by The Masked Marvel.
The Astros came into the game looking to avoid losing their first series of the month and hoping to continue building a little momentum before heading to Boston and Chicago for their next seven games. The last time the Astros won a series against Cleveland was June of 2012. A win today would also get Houston up to .500 at home on this year.
It may have taken 16 innings, but the Astros accomplished all of the above by besting the Cleveland Ball Club 5-3.
On the Mound:
You may not have known this, but Mr. Fister was riding a streak of four straight quality starts heading into today. You have no excuse for not knowing that he'll head into his next start with a streak of five straight quality starts, after turning in 7 innings and giving up just 2 runs on 6 hits with no walks and 3 strikeouts.
He faced the minimum in the first after a one-out single was erased by a double play. All three of his strikeouts came in the second inning with only a two-out single to mar the inning. He got into a little trouble in the third inning when a leadoff single was followed by a throwing error on a pickoff attempt, putting a runner on 2nd with no outs. A pair of ground outs put the runner on 3rd with two outs before Jason Kipnis singled to left on a 1-2 count, scoring Lonnie Chisenhall to give Cleveland a 1-0 lead. A leadoff homer in the 4th by Mike Napoli pushed the lead to 2 but Fister would only face 12 more batters to record his next 12 outs, giving up just one more single but then inducing another double play. He ended up getting 14 ground balls to just 1 fly ball on the day. Solid outing to be sure.
Will Harris came on for the 8th and continued his outstanding season, giving up just a one out single before completing his scoreless inning.
Luke Gregerson came on for the 9th, looking to close things out, but with one out in the 9th ended up allowing a double by Napoli and triple by Carlos Santana, scoring Napoli, to blow his first save of the season. A pair of ground outs kept Santana from scoring, leaving the score tied at 3.
Scott Feldman took the 10th and worked around a pair of singles to hold Cleveland at bay. Ken Giles came on for the 11th and scared us all by allowing a leadoff single, but settled down to retire the next three batters in order. Tony Sipp was the next man up and worked a 1-2-3 12th inning, then went back out for the 13th, allowing a leadoff single and a ground out before giving way to Pat Neshek. Neshek got a fly out and allowed a walk before getting Marlon Byrd to popup, ending the weak Cleveland threat.
Perhaps realizing neither team was in a hurry to end the game, Hinch went with someone who could eat a few innings if necessary, Michael Feliz to start the 14th. Feliz took his 7.84 ERA and shoved it down Cleveland's throat for 3 innings, giving up just 1 hit while striking out 5.
At the Plate:
I'm beginning the think the LA Clippers have grounds for a trademark infringement suit against the Astros for their egregious appropriation of the LOB City nickname. Houston managed to tie a major league record by leaving 6 runners on base in the first 2 innings. Jose Altuve lead off the 1st with a single followed by walks by George Springer and Carlos Correa to load the bases with no outs, but Rasmus, Gonzalez, and Valbuena struck out. #LOBCity
In the 2nd, Gomez led off the inning with a single and stole second, Stassi and Marisnick struck out, Altuve was intentionally walked to bring up George Springer, who then also walked to again load the bases with Correa coming up. It was not meant to be, though, as Correa grounded into a fielders choice to short to end the inning. #LOBCity
In the 3rd, a 1 out double by Gonzalez was followed by a walk by Valbuena, but a Gomez strike out and Stassi ground out ended the threat. #LOBCity
With 2 out in the 4th, in a moment of sheer brilliance, George Springer didn't leave anything to chance by blasting a solo homer to left, the 1,500th in the history of Minute Maid Park. Coincidentally, Springer also hit the 1,400th. That's noteworthy because big, shiny, round numbers are more significant than those ugly, crooked ones. Anyway, that brought the score to 2-1.
A Luis Valbuena 2 out walk was all the Astros could muster in the 5th.
In the 6th, with two outs, Altuve rocked a double to left, Springer walked, and Correa singled to center, scoring Altuve and tying the game at 2. Rasmus walked, loading the bases for the 3rd time in the game before Gonzalez grounded out to end the inning. #LOBCity
With 2 out in the 7th, Preston Tucker singled home Valbuena, giving the Astros a 3-2 lead.
The 8th and 9th went 6 up, 6 down which, combined with Gregerson's rough inning detailed above, sent everyone to extra innings.
Houston whispered a threat in the 10th when Altuve and Springer each worked a two out walk before Correa flew out.
The Astros tried again in the 11th, when Rasmus led off with a walk, was sacrificed to 2nd by MarGo, and advanced to 3rd on a Valbuena ground out. Gomez was then intentionally walked to bring up Kratz, who then struck out swinging to end the inning.
The next 4 innings saw the Astros send the minimum to the plate with no one reaching base.
In the 16th, Correa reached on a single, followed by a fly out by Rasmus. So it was, with one out and one on in the bottom of the 16th inning, mighty Marwin Gonzalez strode to the plate and, with one swing of the bat, ended the game with a walk-off, two run homer.
In all, the Astros managed 10 hits, including 2-for-15 with RISP, and 12 walks, but scored just 5 runs while leaving 17 runners on base. #LOBCity
In a game that stayed close the entire way, went 16 innings, and ended in a walk-off, I've got to go with Marwin's game winner.
Man of the Match:
A few to choose from here. Obviously Marwin could get it. Springer reached base 5 times, including 4 walks. Fister did all he could to keep the Astros in a position to win. I'm going with Michael Feliz and his 3 perhaps unexpectedly dominant innings in relief. Don't @ me.
Goat of the Game:
Again, a few to choose from. Gregerson blowing his first save of the season. Max Stassi going 0x4 with 4 LOB. Rasmus going 0x6 with 4 LOB Marwin actually had the most LOBsters with 6. Sorry Gregerson, but your blown save forced everyone to play an extra 7 innings, burning through the rest of the bullpen. And on a getaway day, at that.
The Astros head to Boston to start a seven game road trip.
Keuchel (2-4, 4.70) squares up against David Price (4-1, 6.75).
7:10 Eastern, 6:10 Central.