Astros Insider: A Weird And Awesome Victory


Chas McCormick’s first appearance on the dinner plate was a fluke in more ways than one.

The outfielder did not start Friday’s game. He came in late in the ninth inning as a pinch runner representing the winning run and found himself stranded on third base as the Astros failed to take advantage of an opportunity to claim the win, instead sending the game to additional sleeves.

The Diamondbacks took a 3-2 lead early in the 10th inning. When McCormick came to strike at the bottom of the inning (more on that later), Jake Meyers had tied the game on a one-out RBI single and the Astros had loaded the bases.

Tyler Clippard’s 0-2 throw came out of his hand and made contact with McCormick’s shoulder. The outfielder looked stunned for a moment, then dropped his bat and raised his hand in the air as he followed the home umpire’s pointed finger along the first base line. Yordan Alvarez raised his fist and ran home to anoint the Astros winners.

The Astros started the entire game with their bullpen, were untouched by Madison Bumgarner in five innings, ended the night with four hits to the Diamondbacks’ 10 – and won in extra innings in a throw hit.

“It was a strange game,” manager Dusty Baker said.

“Funky,” suggested Meyers.

“This was just one of those crazy games that we had to go through,” said McCormick. “At this point in the season, it doesn’t matter who we play. Every game, every team will be difficult. So it was huge for us to come back.

As the Astros move closer to the playoffs, the series wins become more important. Wins like Friday, while tight against a Diamondbacks team with the MLB’s worst road record, are wins nonetheless.

Friday’s win reduced the number of wins the Astros need to win the division to nine. There are still two games against the Diamondbacks and four against the Angels before the Astros travel to Oakland for a three-game series against the A-second.

“It doesn’t matter how you do it – to me they all mean the same thing,” said Jose Altuve. “At the end of the day, we’re just trying to win the game and I’m very happy for Chas that he found himself in this situation and got the RBI.”

It was Altuve who spoiled Bumgarner’s hit and gave the Astros their first lead of the night with a two-run homer in the sixth inning, a bomb that tied Altuve with Lance Berkman for most career hits. at Minute Maid Park (849). Jose Siri’s walk preceded him, and Baker gave the rookie credit for moving up to second and distracting Bumgarner.

“It’s what speed does to you, gets you out of your rhythm,” Baker said. “You have to split your focus between the base runner and the batter.”

The energy in the stadium skyrocketed after Altuve’s home run. In the seventh inning, Baker successfully challenged a tight game at first base. In the eighth, shortstop Carlos Correa fielded a hopper and made a double play to eliminate all but one Arizona runner. That point scored to tie the game, but wide receiver Jason Castro and Altuve teamed up to pitch the future starting point at second.

Once Bumgarner left the game after seven innings, Houston’s offense showed a spark. The Astros put three runners on base in the eighth and ninth innings, a momentum that continued until the 10th.

Baker played roster jenga and decided to remove powerful hitter Kyle Tucker (who was 0-for-4 on the night) from the game, inserting Martín Maldonado as the Astros’ ghost runner on second base to start the inning. The change allowed McCormick to stay in the game and come to bat in a winning situation.

“Would you rather take your chances to (Maldonado) hit fifth with the runners in possible scoring position to win or tie the game or would you rather have him run second?” That’s what we took into account, ”said Baker. “I didn’t like taking Tucker out of the game and I didn’t want to burn (Aledmys) Díaz – that I ended up having to use him in that win situation because I was until my last man. So you start weighing all of these things and you say okay, I’d rather try my luck with Maldy as a base runner than Maldy hits in this situation.

The bet is won.

It was the third hit-and-run victory in major tournaments this season, as well as the third in Astros franchise history. Houston’s last was on August 8, 1998, when Richard Hidalgo was hit by Philadelphia right-hander Mark Leiter.

McCormick believes it was his first career outing. His batting stance keeps him far enough from the plate that he won’t be hit by many pitches. Needless to say, he was surprised.

“It was a good time to be hit with a pitch,” he said. “I was just happy it hit me.”

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