The five-game losing skid ended Tuesday night in Seattle thanks to Charlie Morton and a steady bullpen as well as the slugging of Evan Gattis and Josh Reddick to pull out a 5-2 triumph and extend their A.L. West lead back to four games. Meanwhile Oakland topped Toronto to remain five games behind entering the final two months.
Gattis: Celebrates lid-lifter
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Morton allowed a homer to Jean Segura and an RBI single by Mitch Haniger in the sixth while posting his team-leading 12th win of the season. A quartet of relievers tossed shutout ball over the final three frames with Hector Rondon adding his 10th save.
Tony Kemp doubled in the fifth against Mike Leake then Reddick drove him in with a base hit to tie the game. In the sixth, Alex Bregman doubled before Gattis stroked his 21st homer into the left field seats over the outstretched glove of Denard Span for a 3-1 advantage.
Seattle closed within 3-2 and it looked like nailbiting time in the final innings until Kyle Tucker singled with one out in the ninth against ex-Astro Zach Duke then Reddick followed with a drive into the right-center nook above the 380-foot sign to give Rondon a three-run cushion.
Overall, the balsa-hitting offense finally broke out with 15 hits. Five batters had multi-hit efforts including Bregman, Reddick, Gattis, Kemp and Tyler White.
The win, however, did not come without a cost. All-star outfielder George Springer left the game in the second inning with a sore left shoulder after diving on a Span triple in the first. Tucker replaced him in the lineup. Springer is presently considered day-to-day but that was the original diagnosis for sidelined teammates Carlos Correa (back) and Jose Altuve (knee) before beginning stints on the disabled list.
You may not miss Springer as much as you think. The streaky slugger was batting .170 (26-for-153) in his past 39 games. Other than one season, he has seen time on the DL every year so one could almost say this was due. This likely opens the door for Jake Marisnick (.196) or Derek Fisher (.172) to return.
As for Correa, he had a full workout Tuesday and if his back has no pain by Thursday he will be sent to a rehab assignment before returning to the Astros. Altuve, meanwhile, is traveling with the team but is out at least through the road trip.
A pair of southpaws square off in a critical rubber game in this three-game series. Dallas Keuchel (8-9) ushers in the month of August against ex-Astro Wade LeBlanc (6-1) in a 3:10 pm Central time finale. The Astros could leave Seattle five games up or only three.
Thursday will bring an off day before starting a three-game series against their World Series foes, the Los Angeles Dodgers. Check the August calendar (see left-hand column) and you'll note that every road game this month will be against a West Coast team as the Champs see a lot of Seattle, Oakland and Anaheim during the Dog Days.
- Bob Hulsey