It took ten innings of awkward defense, flustered pitching and dramatic last-gasp hitting for the Astros to win 7-4 and claim the series 2-1. Curiously enough, it was the Astros bullpen that escorted them to victory. Hector Ambriz, last night’s villain, was solid in his closing contributions, as was Wesley Wright. Lucas Harrell was the starter, and even though he only conceded one earned-run through five innings, Bo Porter pulled him from the game to change the tempo of the proceedings. It worked.
It took until an eighth inning solo home run by Carlos Corporan, who himself had an excellent outing behind the plate, to tie the game and ensure extra innings. Corporan showed the discipline and command that the Astros are looking for right now, and the one-two punch of he and Jason Castro is turning out to be quite formidable.
In the bottom of the tenth inning, Carlos Pena really set off the fireworks. As the two batters before him reached second and third safely, Pena ripped the first pitch he saw way into the right-field upper decks. Pena’s signature bat-drop is becoming a familiar sight around Minute Maid Park recently and a welcome one. It was the sixth walk-off home run of Pena’s career and the Astros’ first this season.
This wasn’t an attractive game of baseball by any stretch, but it was a win, echoing Bo Porter’s sentiment that there is no such thing as a moral victory, just a victory. This is the type of contest that the Astros would have likely lost earlier in the season, but luck seems to be on their side right now. The Astros are 18-16 in their last 34, and you can tell that they arrive at the ballpark knowing they can win each game.
They travel north now for a three game series at Wrigley Field with the Chicago Cubs. As the Oakland Athletics and the Texas Rangers grapple for the lead in the AL West, the Astros are quietly scraping themselves off the bottom, eager to lose the tag of the worst team in baseball. They’re certainly not playing like it.