Justin Verlander hurled six innings of one-hit ball Saturday night and nobody will remember. Leading, 1-0 in the eighth, the Houston bullpen spit out a five-spot to Anaheim, largely on the back of Mike Trout's three-run homer.
Fans would have reason to think they had just watched a crushing defeat but, instead, the Astros summoned a nine-run response to bury the Angels, 10-5, at Minute Maid Park to reduce Houston's magic number for the A.L. West crown to five. Oakland won their game to stay 3-1/2 games behind with eight games left in the regular season.
Jose Altuve started the frame with a walk against Justin Anderson and ended the uprising with a two-run homer off Blake Parker. In between, Marwin Gonzalez walked, Yuli Gurriel singled, Josh Reddick walked, then Brian McCann and Evan Gattis both singled to push the score to 5-4.
The key play in the rally came when Tyler White chopped to third baseman Taylor Ward who had the chance to start an inning-ending double play but instead air-mailed his throw into right field as two runs scored to give Houston the 6-5 lead.
George Springer then added a two-run single and Altuve crushed his homer to complete the destruction. Roberto Osuna finished an uneventful ninth to close out the win for Collin McHugh. Meanwhile, we are left to wonder whether Hector Rondon, who has done so much for the club this year, could be pitching his way off the postseason roster.
The last regular-season home game for the Astros takes place Sunday in a 1:10 pm Central finale. Charlie Morton (15-3) will pitch for Houston against lefty Tyler Skaggs (8-8) who has bedazzled Astro hitters at times in the past.
- Bob Hulsey