With two outs and two runners on base in the top of the seventh inning Astros manager Bo Porter, nursing a 2-run lead, made a call to the bullpen. Wesley Wright made his way to the Minute Maid Park mound and proceeded to throw several warmup pitches before Porter met with the umpires and removed Wright in favor of Hector Ambriz.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia went nuclear — but to no avail. Ambriz was allowed to enter the game.
The rule book states that a pitcher must face at least one batter unless he is unable to continue due to injury or illness. That didn’t seem to be the case and Scioscia protested the game. Meanwhile, Astros fans everywhere were also protesting the fact that Ambriz was brought into a game that had yet to be decided.
Mike Scioscia (Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports)
After uncorking a wild pitch, Ambriz was able to get out of the inning with the 2-run lead still intact. But he wasn’t so lucky in the eighth inning. Ambriz loaded the bases without retiring a batter before being relieved by Travis Blackley. All three runners would eventually score, giving the Angels the lead and putting Ambriz on the hook for the loss.
Porter should be protesting himself for declaring Ambriz his eighth inning setup man. Another poor performance by the right-hander ran his ERA to 6.23 for the season. Ambriz has been consistently ineffective and, in my opinion, has no business being on the mound in close games. As long as Porter continues to use Ambriz in such a role the bullpen will continue to be a glaring weakness for the Astros.
Josh Fields is scheduled to start a rehab assignment tomorrow. I am assuming the Astros will take their time bringing him back even though he has already been pitching pain-free in Florida.