Popular musician Drake was in the house to kick off the finale of this four game set versus the Diamondbacks. The Astros, having won two of the first three, were looking to win yet another series and sweep the two games at home. The pitching match-up featured Scott Feldman looking to get back on track for the Astros versus the six foot lefty Wade Miley. Returning from a day off was Jose Altuve, and resting for the evening was Jason Castro.
This game had everything. If you condensed the storyline of the contest into one story you would be shortchanged. The Astros struggled with runners in scoring position, Feldman was solid, Altuve got hurt, and Chris Carter saved the day in the tenth. “Started from the bottom now we’re here,” as Drake would say.
Feldman’s start got off to a much better beginning than his last when he put the Diamondbacks down in order. His command on the outset was much like Astros fans had seen at the very beginning of the year. The dynamic duo of Dexter Fowler and Altuve greeted Miley rudely with a single and double respectively in the bottom half of the first. George Springer followed with a walk to load the bases up for the dangerous Jon Singleton. Singleton would record the first out in sacrificial fashion, with a deep drive to center field to plate Fowler from third base. Unfortunately the Astros would score only one run in the inning with a Matt Dominguez strikeout and a Chris Carter fly out to right.
Feldman looked sharp until the third when he ran into quite a bit of foot traffic. Left fielder David Peralta banged a one out single up the middle. Following the knock, Ender Inciarte hit a sharp ball to Altuve’s left — which he misplayed. The error allowed Peralta to get to third on a bang-bang play. Didi Gregorius, second baseman, and leadoff hitter, drove in the Diamondbacks first run via the sacrifice fly. Feldman escaped the inning and the game was tied 1-1.
A good team responds to the opposition scoring by returning the favor. Jon Singleton did just that with a majestic solo home run into the upper tank in right field. That would be it for the Astros in the third and they now led 2-1.
Fast forwarding to the bottom of the fourth, Robbie Grossman led off the inning with a hard earned walk. The walk would pay off as the power hitting backup catcher Carlos Corporan sent a shot over the Laundry’s Crawford Boxes banging off of the facade. The two run homer gave the Astros a 4-1 advantage.
The top of the fifth kept the momentum in the Astros favor when George Springer made a spectacular, diving forward catch off of the bat of Chris Owings. Despite the hard hit for an out, Feldman started to really find himself utilizing the art of pitching to contact.
In the top of the sixth inning Feldman’s control took a turn for the worse as he walked Gerardo Parra and surrendered a laser double off the left field wall to Paul Goldschmidt. After recording two outs, Feldman unleashed a wild pitch allowing Parra to plate the Diamondbacks second run. Feldman escaped a shaky sixth with a strikeout in the dirt to Miguel Montero.
Checking in for the Diamondbacks in the sixth inning was Randall Delgado. Miley threw 102 pitches, while yielding four runs in five innings to a red hot Astros offense. Delgado was on point retiring the Astros in order.
Arizona shortstop Chris Owings hit a solo shot over the Laundry’s Crawford Boxes in the top half of the seventh to draw the Diamondbacks closer at 4-3. Feldman’s stuff looked good, but his fastballs can tend to get lazy while behind in the count, and this was the case on the home run. Unfortunately for Scott he could not make up for it, and that fastball would be his last pitch. Checking into the game after six and two-thirds was Darin Downs. Darin navigated his way through the inning.
Dexter Fowler led the charge once again for the Astros in the bottom of the seventh with a single. Dexter advanced to second on a misguided throw into first base by Parra in right. However the celebration was diminished when Jose Altuve was hit the right hand by a Delgado fastball. He was in a lot of pain and pinch run for by Marwin Gonzalez. Springer came up next and drew a walk to load the bases. The left handled specialist Joe Thatcher was brought in to face Singleton. Thatcher did his job inducing Singleton into a lazy fly out to short. Evan Marshall checked in for the Diamondbacks and got two key outs with one pitch. Matt Dominguez hit a ball back to the mound, a force out was recorded at home and then Montero launched a ball into right field. However, Dominguez was ruled to interfere with the throw with the lane he took to first base and it became a 1-2-3 double play.
Following a strikeout of Parra, Downs was taken out of the game for Josh Fields. Fields gave up a double to Goldschmidt down the left field line. Martin Prado followed with a flair to right field when Springer made one of the best catches of the year, sprinting in from right field and snagging the ball just before it hit the ground. Much to Springer’s advantage Goldschmidt made an extremely poor base running decision by attempting to advance to third. He was doubled up from nine to six, and the Astros escaped the eighth inning.
Fast forwarding to the ninth the game remained 4-3. Astros assumed closer Chad Qualls checked in and this lively crowd of 33,000 plus was pumped. It did not take Qualls long to blow the save and his scoreless streak since late April was gone. Montero took him deep to the opposite field to tie up the contest in the ninth. Qualls’s gang in the field helped him survive the ninth. Dominguez caught a scolded line drive at third, followed by a do or die play by Marwin at second base. Qualls escaped the top of the ninth with the score tied 4-4.
Checking in for the bottom of the ninth was the side winder Brad Ziegler. After retiring Fowler, Ziegler walked Marwin Gonzalez — batting in place of the injured Altuve. Springer continued to show why he is the “man” in Houston. He hit a clutch single right up the middle, advancing Gonzalez to third. Singleton came up to draw the intentional walk and load the bases for Dominguez. Dominguez once again hit into a tough double play to third base, allowing Ziegler to escape the inning and sending the contest to extras.
Hard throwing lefty Tony Sipp was brought in for the Astros in the top half of the 10th. Tony was sharp, giving the Astros another shot at victory in the bottom half of the 10th. In for the Diamondbacks in 10th was splitter specialist J.J. Putz. J.J. would only face one batter as Chris Carter hit a laser beam into the Crawford Boxes, giving the Astros their first walkoff home run of the season 5-4.
This game featured 10 people left on base, a blown save, an injury to Altuve, and yet the Astros find a way to win the game. This is a checkpoint win for the Astros in the 2014 season. In the postgame conference Bo Porter said the x-rays were negative on Altuve, and he will be day to day. Friday the Astros will take on the Rays as Collin McHugh squares off against Alex Cobb. First pitch is at 7:10.