It took 91 pitches before the Astros could get a hit off 44-year-old Bartolo Colon on Sunday night but they still managed to take the game to extra innings. Unfortunately, the bullpen failed again, causing a 3-1 loss to the Rangers in 10 innings. The defeat dropped the Astros three full games behind Anaheim whose contest at Kansas City was postponed for inclement weather.
Colon: Seven-inning magician
(c) Melissa Phillip/Houston Chronicle
For seven innings, the batters played as if they were in bad weather. Justin Verlander was stellar again, allowing just one run on one hit while striking out 11 in eight innings. His only glitch was a leadoff homer to Robinson Chirinos in the third.
It seemed that might just hold up the way Colon was befuddling Astro batters. The crafty righthander carried a perfect game into the eighth inning. Carlos Correa led off the bottom of the eighth with a walk then Josh Reddick stung a double down the right field line to break up the no-hit bid. Still nobody was out and fans smelled a rally.
Yuli Gurriel popped a fly to medium-deep center field where Carlos Tocci caught then dropped the ball as Correa came home with the tying run. Reddick stole third but neither Marwin Gonzalez nor Brian McCann could get him home.
After Chris Devenski escaped danger in the ninth, Hector Rondon appeared in the 10th. He immediately gave up a single to Joey Gallo and a ground-rule double to Ronald Guzman before Chirinos smashed a double to center that put the Rangers ahead to stay.
Houston put two runners aboard in both the ninth and tenth innings but could not get anyone across. Jake Diekman got the save by fanning Jake Marisnick to end the contest.
The 10-6 Astros now start a four-game series in Seattle as part of a week-long road trip. The 8-5 Mariners are just a half-game behind Houston, who has dropped four of their last five. A pair of lefthanders, Dallas Keuchel (0-2) and James Paxton (0-1), will toe the rubber in the 9:10 pm Central sleepy-time opener.
Two disjointed additional comments. Where does ESPN find a play-by-play man who cannot pronounce names? In one half-inning I heard three botched names and another was borderline. ESPN used to be a quality sports network with some of the industry's best announcers. During their Apprentice-style reality series years ago about hiring an announcer, an ESPN executive called mispronunciations "inexcusable". Yet, some clown was handed a microphone for one of the network's premiere events, "Sunday Night Baseball". His performance was inexcusable.
Finally, let me be clear about Jackie Robinson Day. For what he endured, he deserves every accolade given him. Honor him for a day? Surely. Retire his number 42 for all 30 teams? Fine. Having all players don number 42 with no name tag in the same game? Sheer idiocy. Only Bud Selig would dream up something so stupid. How can fans at the game recognize anyone (other than Jose Altuve, of course) if they all have no name and the same uniform number? Let's find other ways to honor Robinson and keep number 42 retired all 365 days of the year.
- Bob Hulsey