No Springer. No Correa. No Gurriel. No problem, right? It was for Gerrit Cole Friday night in St. Pete as the Tampa Bay Rays did just enough and the Astros did too little in a 3-2 Tampa decision that ended the Road Warriors' record 11-game winning streak away from Minute Maid.
This throw led to two Tampa runs
(c) Associated Press
Cole worked six innings, allowing five hits and three walks but it was the fourth inning where his defense betrayed him. Daniel Robertson and Joey Wendle began the frame with singles. Adeiny Hechavarria launched a sacrifice fly to center that was dropped by Jake Marisnick, allowing Robertson to score and Hechavarria to be safe at first.
With two outs, Kevin Kiermaier chopped to Marwin Gonzalez who was playing shortstop because Carlos Correa had been placed on the disabled list with a sore back earlier in the day. His throw to first died just before arrival where A.J. Reed, playing first due to Yuli Gurriel's paternity leave, failed to make the one-hop scoop as the throw bounced away. The error allowed both Wendle and Hechavarria to score for a 3-0 Tampa lead.
Wilmer Font, meanwhile, did not give up a hit until Max Stassi doubled in the fifth. Houston would get their two runs in the sixth. Marisnick, who started because George Springer has been in a slump, drew a base on balls. Font strained a muscle in his side pitching to Marisnick and was replaced by Diego Castillo. Alex Bregman was the next batter up and he drilled a two-run shot beyond the fence in left-center to narrow the deficit to 3-2.
A two-out single in the ninth by Evan Gattis was all the hitters could muster the rest of the way against the Tampa bullpen as Houston lost on a three-hitter. As of this writing, Seattle leads Kansas City out on the coast. If that score holds up, the Mariners will have crept back within 2-1/2 games of the Champs.
Reed, who has struggled in the past with his transition from AAA to the majors, was 0-for-3 in his start. Houston called up Cuban lefthander Cionel Perez who was 5-1 as a starter at AA Corpus Christi to take Correa's place on the roster. Perez did not get into Friday's contest.
Justin Verlander (9-3) will make his second bid for his tenth win on Saturday as he pitches in the 3:10 pm Central afternoon start at Competing Citrus Juice Sponsor Stadium. His mound opponent is in some question but it could be Friday's starter Ryan Stanek or another member of their bullpen.
- Bob Hulsey