After a weather delay of over an hour, the Astros, decked in military drab surrendered to Cleveland on Saturday night, 8-6, which snapped a five-game Houston win streak.
Altuve: 4-for-4 evening
(c) Associated Press
Lance McCullers spun a one-hitter at the Indians last weekend so it only made sense he'd be knocked out of the box early in this one. Nursing a 2-1 lead, courtesy of a homer by Jose Altuve, McCullers was blasted for two-run homers in the third by "Wild Blue" Yonder Alonso and then by Jason Kipnis for a 5-2 Cleveland advantage.
Home runs were a theme of the night. After the Astros tacked on a run in the fifth via a Carlos Correa double, Edwin Encarnacion answered with a two-run shot that ended McCullers' night, trailing 7-3.
Lance's evening showed seven earned runs on six hits and two walks in 4-1/3rd innings. Tony Sipp recorded the final two outs in the fifth.
The Astros, who had made late comebacks in winning the first two games of the series, began cranking it up on Carlos Corrasco. After Evan Gattis drew a two-out walk in the sixth, Tony Kemp rifled a shot into the first row of the right field seats that cut the deficit to 7-5. Carrasco lasted 5-2/3rd innings while giving up five runs on seven hits and two walks.
Alex Bregman was initially called safe to lead off the seventh but replay overturned it. That proved crucial as Altuve stung a triple as the next batter. It was part of a four-hit night for Altuve who was just one base shy of the cycle. When Correa drove Jose home, it pulled Houston within 7-6 but, had the Bregman play not been changed, the contest would have been tied at seven.
Michael Brantley added an insurance run with a homer in the seventh off Brad Peacock. Tyler Olson and Dan Otero kept the Astros scoreless in the eighth before Cody Allen pitched the ninth for his eighth save.
The season finale occurs at 12:10 pm Central on Sunday with a battle that's a little personal. Gerrit Cole (5-1) and Trevor Bauer (4-3) were highly-recruited prospects who both signed with UCLA. In the 2011 draft, Cole went first to Pittsburgh and Bauer went third to the Indians. Bauer upped the ante by suggesting the Astros pitchers were using pine tar to improve their spin rate.
The Astros have a 4-2 lead in the season series and this game may have meaning if the two hurlers face off four months later in the playoffs.
- Bob Hulsey