Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images
With a special win the night before on Apollo 11 night to start the three-game set, Houston could lock up the series with a victory on Tuesday night. Here is how the middle game wound up:
Final Score (11 innings): A's 4, Astros 3.
Record: 65-38, first in the AL West.
Winning pitcher: Yusmeiro Petit (3-2, 2.59 ERA).
Losing pitcher: Collin McHugh (3-5, 5.12 ERA).
1) Gurriel just can't stop driving in runs
Houston gave former-teammate Mike Fiers the most trouble in the second inning. Michael Brantley started the inning off with a single, which gave Yuli Gurriel a chance for another RBI when he came to the plate with one out.
What should have been no surprise with how he has performed of late, Gurriel came through with a ball to center field which got by Ramon Laureano and went all the way to the wall. Gurriel kicked himself into gear, getting around the bases for an inside-the-park home run to give Houston a 2-0 lead.
Everything Yuli hits these days turns into a homer. pic.twitter.com/3kKzKf38tl
— MLB (@MLB) July 24, 2019
2) Miley nearly throws a complete game shutout
Wade Miley, who usually moves fast on the mound, was even more efficient and quick than usual on Tuesday night. He took complete control of the game with each Oakland batter, retiring the first sixteen he faced in order. He allowed his first baserunner and hit with one out in the sixth.
He worked around that hit, getting the next two batters out to finish off the inning. He would allow two more hits in the seventh but stranded both of them as well to keep his shutout going to the eighth. He recorded yet another 1-2-3 inning in the eighth and did so on eleven pitches to earn a chance to finish the game in the ninth.
In the ninth, Miley had his chance to complete the game, but after a leadoff walk and a single had his excellent night drawn to a close. It was his longest start of the season, beating the seven innings he pitched back on May 29th.
The closer Roberto Osuna came in to erase the runners and notch a save, but instead allowed a go-ahead three-run home run, with two of the those charged to Miley. Miley's final line: 8.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 0 HR.
Osuna would retire the next three batters in order, giving the Astros the bottom of the ninth to tie or walk it off.
3) Astros send it to extras but lose in the eleventh
In the bottom of the ninth, Yuli Gurriel got on base with a one-out single, then was pinch-run for by Myles Straw. Straw moved to third on a single by Josh Reddick, then scored on a sacrifice fly by Aledmys Diaz. Houston would be unable to walk it off, sending things to extra innings.
Will Harris was next out of Houston's bullpen to pitch the top of the tenth and worked around a two-out single to send the game to Houston's half of the inning. In the bottom of the tenth, George Springer led the inning off by reaching base on an error, but he would be erased on a double play as Houston came up empty to extend the game another inning.
Collin McHugh was the next reliever on the mound, and he would struggle in the top of the eleventh. He allowed a one-out single, then a walk, setting up a go-ahead double to put Oakland in front 4-3. He would get one more out before Chris Devenski came in to get the third out.
Houston would not be able to come through in the bottom of the eleventh, losing the middle game of the series and setting up Wednesday as the deciding matchup.
Up Next: Houston and Oakland will wrap up this series tomorrow afternoon with a day game at 1:10 PM. The Astros will have Justin Verlander (12-4, 2.99 ERA) on the mound to try and win the series, going against Chris Bassitt (7-4, 3.96 ERA).
The Astros daily report is presented by APG&E.
Ronald Acuña Jr. and Corbin Carroll just got a little more dangerous. Same for Bobby Witt Jr., Elly De La Cruz and the rest of baseball's fastest players.
Major League Baseball wants umpires to crack down on obstruction, and the commissioner's office outlined plans during a call with managers this week. MLB staff also will meet managers in person during spring training to go over enforcement.
The increased emphasis is only on the bases and not at home plate. The focus is on infielders who drop a knee or leg down in front of a bag while receiving a throw, acting as a deterrence for aggressive baserunning and creating an increased risk of injuries.
“I think with everything, they’re trying to make the game a little safer to avoid some unnecessary injuries," Phillies shortstop Trea Turner said Friday at the team's facility in Florida. “The intentions are always good. It comes down to how it affects the players and the games. I’m sure there will be plays where one team doesn’t like it or one team does.”
With more position players arriving at spring training every day, the topic likely will come up more and more as teams ramp up for the season.
“We'll touch on that. We'll show them some video of what’s good and what’s not,” Texas Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said. “You know, it’s going to be a little adjustment.”
Making obstruction a point of emphasis fits in with an ongoing effort by MLB to create more action. Obstruction calls are not reviewable, which could lead to some disgruntled players and managers as enforcement is stepped up, but it also means it won't create long replay deliberations.
A package of rule changes last season — including pitch clocks, bigger bases and limits on defensive shifts and pickoff attempts — had a dramatic effect. There were 3,503 stolen bases in the regular season, up from 2,486 in 2022 and the most since 1987.
MLB changed a different baserunning rule this offseason, widening the runner’s lane approaching first base to include a portion of fair territory. MLB also shortened the pitch clock with runners on base by two seconds to 18 and further reducing mound visits in an effort to speed games.
“Last year, you know, a lot of our preparation was around like, especially just the unknown of the clock and making sure like we’re really buttoned up on that," New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "These guys are so used to it in so many ways that sometimes I even forget.”
Increased enforcement could lead to more action on the basepaths. But a significant element of MLB's motivation is injury prevention.
Top players have hurt hands or wrists on headfirst slides into bases blocked by a fielder. White Sox slugger Luis Robert Jr. sprained his left wrist when he slid into Jonathan Schoop's lower left leg on a steal attempt during an August 2022 game against Detroit.
“It’s been happening for a while. It’s been getting out of control," Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “I know some of the players complained about it the last two years.”
While acknowledging his reputation as a significant offender, Phillies second baseman Bryson Stott didn't sound too worried about his play.
“We like to fight for outs at second base,” he said. "It’s never on purpose, blocking the base. For me, or someone covering second to the shortstop side, it’s a natural move for your knee to go down to reach the ball. It’s never intentional. I guess we’ll figure out how to maneuver around that.”