The Astros opened the three game series versus the Detroit Tigers on Friday with an interesting pitching matchup. Normally one would be weary about facing Justin Verlander, but he has been far from the same guy this season, sporting a 4.82 ERA. Verlander’s mound opponent was Brad Peacock who is still trying to find himself as a major league starter. The Astros were delivered a blow before the game even started, when Dexter Fowler was scratched due to back stiffness.
A 4-3 victory sometimes does not look like much, but on this night it certainly was. The Astros prevailed to an electric win on this night which included four Jose Altuve hits, a Jason Castro walk-off home run, Jake Buchanan‘s first victory, and an array of errors from both sides. It was one that entertained to say the least.
Peacock struggled with his command in the first inning, but with good fortune he was able to escape. The bottom of the first had the Astros off to an early start with Jose Altuve single handily creating a run. Altuve first banged a single through the shortstop and third base hole. Next he stole second base. Finally Altuve attempted to advance to third on a wild pitch when catcher Alex Avila threw the ball wildly to third. Following the errant throw Altuve was able to score easily.
However, the Astros early one run lead was evaporated. Former Astro J.D. Martinez banged out a single and was driven in by a two out single to right center by Alex Avila. Avila tried to stretch it to two bases and was gunned down by George Springer. The game remained tied 1-1.
Peacock danced out of major trouble in the top of the third inning highlighted by a dazzling play by Jonathan Villar. Miguel Cabrera hit a hard liner to short. Villar made a sliding stop on a one hopper to his right, got up and fired to Altuve who was able to complete the double play to first.
In the top of the fourth the Tigers grabbed the lead on a Nick Castellanos home run to the right of the Crawford Boxes. It was a solo no doubt shot. Peacock’s defense had kept him in the game to this point, but with seven hits allowed he was struggling to get through each inning.
The Astros got something started in the fifth when L.J. Hoes banged a leadoff single to right. He would advance on a throwing error by Verlander on a pickoff attempt. Following the error Villar bunted Hoes to third. With a drawn in infield Altuve hit a liner into left center for an RBI double. It was Jose’s 24th double of the season. George Springer hit a bleeder ground ball to short in which he beat easily, moving Altuve to third. With one out in the inning Jon Singleton had a critical strikeout on three pitches. Verlander dialed up a few miles an hour issuing all fastballs to Singleton. Altuve was at it again on a one ball and no strike count chaos ensued. Avila tried to do a snap throw down to first base. As soon as he threw it down to first Altuve took off for home and successfully stole home. Once Avila tried to make a tag play Springer was able to swipe second on the back end. The Astros now claimed the lead 3-2, and it would hold there following the fifth.
With a new found lead Peacock was able to gain his command retiring the side in the sixth, and completing two perfect innings in a row. He concluded the inning by overpowering J.D. Martinez who had given Peacock problems earlier in the evening. Peacock would be removed after six and two-thirds innings. It was not always pretty for Brad, but he got the job done and logged a quality start. Left hander Darin Downs took over in the seventh and closed out the inning.
Verlander’s day came to an end as he logged a quality start with the three earned runs surrendered in six innings. Big right hander Chad Smith took over for him in the bottom half of the seventh. In the top of the eighth, former Tiger and newly acquired Astro, Jose Veras checked in. The Eighth proved to be troublesome and for the wrong reasons. Two errors were made in the inning. Singleton misjudged a pop up in foul territory and Villar made a throwing error to plate the tying run. The runner that scored was Suarez, who reached on a walk. The inning ended with the score tied 3-3.
Joba Chamberlain came on to pitch a scoreless bottom of the eighth and Chad Qualls a scoreless top of the ninth. The Astros had a chance to win it in the bottom half of the ninth facing right handed pitcher Al Alburquerque. The Astros however went down in order, thus sending the game to extra innings.
Blaine Hardy came on to pitch in the bottom of the 10th with the game still tied. The amazing Jose Altuve banged out a leadoff single for his fourth knock of the day. However nothing would come of the inning sending the game to an 11th frame.
Jason Castro ended the game with one swing in the 11th with a lined shot to right field off of Hardy. It was a solo home run that sent the fans home happy and rescued an 0-fer for Castro. It was Castro’s seventh home run of the season and first walk-off home run off his career. Jake Buchanan collected the win by pitching one scoreless frame, it was hist first major league victory.
The pitching match-up in game two will be Brett Oberholtzer starting in place of Dallas Keuchel who has been scratched due to left wrist inflammation versus Max Scherzer. The first pitch is at 3:10, as the Astros look to claim a third straight victory.