Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images
After blowing a four-run lead and wasting the chance to win the series on Tuesday, the Astros tried to remedy things with a win on Wednesday night behind Zack Greinke on the mound. Here is a recap of the rubber game of the three-game set between Houston and San Francisco:
Final Score: Astros 5, Giants 1.
Record: 8-10, second in the AL West.
Winning pitcher: Zack Greinke (1-0, 2.53 ERA).
Losing pitcher: Caleb Baragar (2-1, 11.25 ERA).
Greinke with another strong start
San Francisco carried over their momentum from the night before into the top of the first against Zack Greinke, getting a leadoff triple that would result in a quick 1-0 lead after an RBI-single. Greinke would do well after that, though, dealing with some traffic but keeping the Giants off the board over the next five innings.
He would keep going into the seventh, but with his pitch count rising and putting two on base with a single and walk, he would have his night come to an end as Houston went to Brooks Raley, who would get the second and third outs. That finalized Greinke's line: 6.1 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K.
Astros bats stay hot, Houston wins the series
Greinke would leave with a lead, thanks to an RBI-single by Alex Bregman in the bottom of the fifth to tie the game 1-1 before Houston would put together a four-run sixth. Houston loaded the bases with no outs to allow Carlos Correa to score on a wild pitch to take a 2-1 lead, then Martin Maldonado followed with another big hit in 2020, a three-run home run to extend the lead to 5-1.
That left two more innings for the bullpen to cover with a four-run lead. In the top of the eighth, Raley would return and retire the Giants in order. Still a 5-1 score in the ninth, Blake Taylor would take over on the mound to try and finish off the game. He would get through the scoreless frame, wrapping up the win and the series victory for Houston.
Up Next: The Astros have a day off on Thursday before continuing this homestand with a three-game weekend series with the Mariners starting Friday at 8:10 PM Central. The expected pitching matchup is Yusei Kikuchi (0-1, 5.28 ERA) going for Seattle, opposite of Framber Valdez (0-2, 2.04 ERA) for Houston.
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.”