McCullers holds Sox to 1 run in 5 innings
The headline may as well have read "Red Sox and umpires team up to beat Astros". Sunday afternoon's game featured a little bit of everything but the thing that stood out most to me was the horrific display of umpiring, especially that of home plate ump Clint Fagan.
I don't like to cry sour grapes but Fagan's performance was atrocious. In addition to the native Texan's incredibly inaccurate calling of balls and strikes that consistently went against the Astros, the umpiring crew was asked to go to the headphones three times on the afternoon. All three times the message that came back from New York was "you missed that one". Two of those three bad calls were blatant and went against the Astros. The third was a tough call to make that originally went against Boston.
Despite Fagan's efforts, rookie starter Lance McCullers managed to hold the Red Sox to one run in five innings of work. But the resultant elevated pitch count forced Lance to make an early exit. The early call to the bullpen had a snowball affect that ultimately led to lefty Tony Sipp facing right-handed power hitting Hanley Ramirez. The result was a fly ball that found its way over the green monster, helping the Red Sox to a 5-4 win.
The Astros made their share of mistakes along the way, too. Fielding errors by Carlos Correa and Evan Gattis allowed the Sox to turn a 1-1 tie into a 3-1 lead in the sixth. But Correa and Gattis made amends, launching back-to-back homers in the seventh to give the 'Stros a 4-3 advantage.
Fresh off the disabled list after a leg injury, Jake Marisnick found himself with an opportunity to give the Astros the lead in the second inning. Batting with two outs and two runners in scoring position, the fleet-footed centerfielder decided to try to bunt his way on. Unfortunately, Jake was called out when the ball bounced up and hit him. Of course, Jake was still in the batter's box but Mr. Fagan didn't see it that way.
Marisnick did get a certain degree of retribution when he made an unbelievable catch crashing into the wall to end the sixth inning. With two runners on base, Marisnick's grab saved the Astros and reliever Will Harris a pair of runs.
Another questionable decision helped to stymie a possible ninth inning rally. Colby Rasmus decided to try to beat the shift with a two-strike bunt attempt but hit it foul for the second out. Luis Valbuena followed Rasmus to the plate and took four straight pitches that were clearly out of the strike zone. But, you guessed it, Mr Fagan didn't see it that way. Valbuena eventually struck out and the nightmare was over.
The Astros now head to Cleveland for a four-game series against the Indians. Dallas Keuchel takes the mound against Carlos Carrasco in a battle of ten-game winners.
Off the field, the Astros got good news when it was announced that Jose Altuve had been elected as the starting second-baseman for the American League All-Star team. Altuve becomes the first Houston player to start the mid-season classic for the A.L. squad.
- Greg Thurston