Getting only four hits in a 9-inning game isn't exactly a recipe for victory in the big leagues. But the Astros were in position to do just that Tuesday night against the Rangers. Brad Peacock turned in the best outing by an Astros starting pitcher this month and solo homers by Jose Altuve and Jason Castro provided a 2-1 lead going into the ninth.
That's when the "something weird always seems to happen when these two teams meet" narrative took over at Minute Maid Park. After Ken Giles retired the red hot Adrian Beltre on a groundout to start the inning, Castro was unable to block a Giles slider that Rougned Odor flailed at for strike three. The ball ricocheted off Castro's shin guard and trickled towards the Astros' dugout as Odor hustled to first base ahead of Jason's throw.
Odor stole second during Mitch Moreland's at-bat that would eventually end in a strikeout for Giles. Elvis Andrus stepped to the plate representing the last hope for the Rangers and delivered a line-drive triple to Tal's Hill, tying the game at two. Jurickson Profar grounded the next pitch through the left side of the infield, plating Andrus with what would prove to be the winning run.
With the team's playoff chances fading fast, Astros' manager A.J. Hinch pulled out all the stops by employing his top three late inning relievers for the second straight night. Will Harris and Luke Gregerson responded admirably, combining for five strikeouts in two scoreless innings of work. But Giles, who had worked two innings the night before, couldn't close the door on a Rangers team that has simply owned the Astros all season. The blown save was the first suffered by Giles since June 18th against the Reds.
Altuve had three hits on a night that Astros players not named Altuve or Castro combined to go 0-for-22 with one walk against the likes of world-beaters A.J. Griffin, Alex Claudio, and Tanner Scheppers.
Hinch summed things up in his postgame press conference saying "This one sucks".
- Greg Thurston