There are times the past few years that I think the Astros are just mean. Down 2-0 in the eighth, Houston noticed ace hurler Corey Kluber was no longer on the mound and decided to throw a party. They pushed four runs across to take the lead and win a close one it looked like they were going to lose. In the ninth, they added an insurance run... and another... and another... and another.
Gattis: Pops three hits.
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With a lead of five or more, Houston kept piling on until they had posted an 11-2 Friday night destruction on the Cleveland bullpen. Enough, already! I'd like to leave the Tribe and 29,431 of their fans a measure of dignity while leaving the ballpark instead of making them feel they just left a Browns game. For three hours, they got to toy with the idea of a well-pitched low-scoring victory and, instead, they left the stadium in utter despair.
Of course, hard-luck pitcher Dallas Keuchel wasn't around to claim the win. He scattered eight hits in six innings of work, allowing single runs in the third and sixth. He struck out Greg Allen with the bases full in the sixth or the deficit might have been worse.
The artful Kluber, meanwhile, had blanked Houston for 6-1/3rd innings before filling the sacks in the seventh. That's when Andrew Miller bailed him out coaxing J.D. Davis into a double play grounder.
The Champs sprung to life in the eighth. George Springer greeted Miller with a double and Alex Bregman walked. That's when Jose Altuve, stuck in an oh-for-11 slump, cracked a double into the left field corner that plated both runs and tied the game.
Cody Allen took over for Miller. The Astros kept the inning alive until Marwin Gonzalez had bunted home the go-ahead run and Max Stassi drew a bases-loaded walk for good measure.
Oliver Drake sounds like the foil in a British romance novel. Instead, he's a reliever who appeared in 64 games last year for either Baltimore or Milwaukee. Drake gave up one-out doubles to Altuve and Carlos Correa. After Gonzalez was plunked, Yuri Gurriel, Evan Gattis and Jake Marisnick singled. Then the Tribe replaced Drake with Josh Tomlin and Springer completed the crowning with a three-run bomb for a nine-run lead.
So safe was the margin that Tony Sipp was allowed to pitch the ninth, sealing the win for Joe Smith whose only contribution was to get the last out of the seventh.
Springer and Gattis led the 16-hit pelting with three hits apiece. Altuve and Gurriel added two-hit nights. Every starter in the Houston lineup had at least one hit while the RISP count was 7-for-15 while it was a hefty zero after seven frames.
Gotta hand it to the Mariners who have hung in there right behind the Astros and, Friday, their management rewarded them for their pluckiness. Seattle took advantage of the fire sale at Tanking Bay, collecting closer Alex Colome and veteran outfielder Denard Span for minor league pitchers Andrew Moore and Tommy Romano. The M's nipped the Twins, 2-1, to stay three back of the Astros.
Back in LeBronville, Houston tries for their sixth straight win as Lance McCullers (6-2) gets the nod against Carlos Carrasco (5-3) in a rematch of righthanders. McCullers won that battle last Sunday in prime time. The first pitch Saturday will be at 6:15 pm Central.
- Bob Hulsey