A doubleheader is on tap tomorrow

Astros rally to force extras but Angels take opener

Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

After ending their homestand with a series win against the Rangers, the Astros set out on the road, starting with a four-game set against the Angels over three days. Here is a rundown of the series opener from Friday night:

Final Score (11 innings): Angels 6, Astros 5.

Record: 21-16, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Matt Andriese (2-2, 5.64 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Brooks Raley (0-1, 6.23 ERA).

McCullers Jr. exits without recording an out

After starting the game off with back-to-back singles, things quickly spiraled downhill and out of control for the Astros. After stranding both runners in the top half, Lance McCullers went to the mound in the bottom of the first.

He would leave before recording an out, giving up a two-run home run to Mike Trout, then walking the bases loaded. He called the trainer out at one point in the inning, but it is unclear if his struggles were injury-related or not.

Astros chip away at the lead

That set up an opportunity for Luis Garcia's major-league debut. He was able to turn the loaded bases into just one run, allowing a sacrifice fly to make it 3-0 Angels before getting two strikeouts to end the threat. Garcia would continue eating up innings, allowing a solo home run in the bottom of the third to extend the Angels' lead to 4-0, but still pitched into the fifth inning in an impressive, albeit impromptu, debut.

The Astros were able to cut the lead in half in the top of the fourth, putting two on base before an RBI-groundout by Kyle Tucker and RBI-double by Carlos Correa to make it 4-2. Cionel Perez finished the fifth for Garcia but then allowed a run in the sixth to make it a three-run game at 5-2.

Houston forces extras but can't bring in another run

After Perez, Andre Scrubb would be the third arm out of the bullpen, and he was able to finish the sixth then throw the seventh and eighth. The Astros put together a rally in the ninth, getting runners on second and third with no outs. They would both score, one on a wild pitch then another on an RBI-groundout by Josh Reddick.

Michael Brantley reached on a two-out single and was pinch-run for by Myles Straw. Straw stole second, getting himself in position for a tying RBI-double by Kyle Tucker, making it 5-5. Tucker would be left on second base, sending the game to the bottom of the ninth with Ryan Pressly on the mound to force extras. Pressly would do so, working around a walk to send things along to the tenth.

In the top of the tenth, the Astros were unable to advance Carlos Correa, the free runner on second base. Brooks Raley entered to try and force another inning, and despite the Angles moving their runner over with a leadoff bunt, would get the final two outs without giving up the run, extending the game another inning.

Garrett Stubbs pinch-ran for Martin Maldonado as the runner on second in the top of the eleventh, but he too would stay put as Houston again went down in order. The Angels would finally end the game in the bottom of the eleventh, getting a walk-off RBI-single by Shohei Ohtani to win 6-5.

Up Next: Two of the four-game series will occur on Saturday, with a doubleheader starting at 6:07 PM Central. The first game will feature Brandon Bielak (3-2, 5.40 ERA) on the mound for the Astros and Griffin Canning (0-3, 4.04 ERA) for the Angels. The second game will start 30-45 minutes later with Jose Urquidy making his first start of 2020 while Los Angeles' starter is TBD.

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Yordan Alvarez's homer in Wednesday's game gave him 100 RBI on the season. Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Winners of three straight, six of their last seven, and eight of their last ten, the Astros had the chance to move yet another game closer to clinching their playoff spot if they could secure the series with a win against the Angels on Wednesday. Even though it looked as though they were headed towards a loss in extra innings, they would ultimately come out ahead.

Final Score (12 innings): Astros 9, Angels 5

Astros' Record: 91-61, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Yimi Garcia (4-9)

Losing Pitcher: Sam Selman (0-1)

Garcia goes six shutout innings

Although he didn't have swing-and-miss dominance in this start, Luis Garcia could still capitalize on a struggling Angels offense and post a shutout quality start against them. He allowed three walks and three hits throughout his outing but stranded all of them while getting outs on balls in play. His final line: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 79 P.

Alvarez reaches 100 RBI as Houston's offense keeps rolling

That performance had Garcia in line for the win, as two homers handed him a 3-0 advantage which he held. Houston once again used early offense to take a first-inning lead, as a leadoff walk by Jose Altuve turned into a monster 456-foot by Yordan Alvarez, pushing him to 100 RBI on the season. The score held at 2-0 until the top of the fifth, when Jason Castro led that frame off with a solo homer to extend the lead to three runs.

Extras in Anaheim

Phil Maton was first out of Houston's bullpen in the bottom of the seventh, but a single, double, and walk loaded the bases with no outs to put him in a jam. A lineout kept the runners put for the first out, but a single and a walk would make it a one-run game and left the bases loaded as Maton would get pulled.

Kendall Graveman entered to try and stop the bleeding, but after a force out at home to put that within reach, Jack Mayfield came through for Los Angeles with a go-ahead three-run double, giving the Angels their first lead of the series at 5-3. In the top of the eighth, a walk by Alex Bregman brought Alvarez back to the plate, and he would nearly miss a game-tying homer and instead got an RBI-single to make it 5-4.

Alvarez would still come in to tie the game, hustling home from second on an RBI single by Yuli Gurriel to knot things up 5-5. Brooks Raley was Houston's next reliever, and he sat down LA in order with two strikeouts. Still tied in the bottom of the ninth, Ryan Pressly came in to force extras, and despite being shadowed by the winning run on the bases after a leadoff single, retired the next three batters to send the game to the tenth.

Astros keep battling and take it in the twelfth

Jake Meyers took second base as Houston's free runner in the top of the tenth, but he would go nowhere as the Astros went down in order, giving the Angels another chance at a walk-off. Instead of giving Shohei Ohtani a free pass immediately, Houston would let Blake Taylor throw two balls to him before giving him the intentional walk.

Taylor then gave up a single to load the bases with no outs, and after getting a force out at home for the first out, Yimi Garcia would replace him. Thanks to a great play by Chas McCormick, giving him multiple in the game, the Astros would live to see another inning as he would make a great catch in right field and then throw out Ohtani at home.

In the top of the eleventh, a sac fly by Yuli Gurriel moved Aledmys Diaz to third, but that's as close as Houston would come, leaving them stuck at five runs. After Garcia retired three more batters in the bottom of the eleventh, the game moved to the twelfth, where Houston would get back in front on an RBI single by Jake Meyers, then padded the new lead on a two-RBI double by Jose Altuve, who would also score on a sac fly by Alex Bregman, making it 9-5. Josh James came in and wrapped things up in the bottom half as Houston secured the series victory and reduced their magic number to two against Oakland and three against Seattle.

Up Next: The finale of this four-game series, and the last time these two teams will meet this year, will be an 8:38 PM Central start on Thursday. The expected pitching matchup is Alex Cobb (8-3, 3.59 ERA) for Los Angeles and Lance McCullers Jr. (12-4, 3.11 ERA) for Houston.

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