Pujols homers twice to down Astros
The Houston Astros found themselves in a West Coast nail-biter with Albert Pujols and the Los Angeles Angels Monday evening as the man dubbed ‘The Machine’ launched two big flies to sink the visiting team.
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All looked well for the Astros during the early half of the game after Domingo Santana recorded his second home run of the season on a line drive to right field off starting pitcher Hector Santiago in the third inning. It was a lead-off dinger that gave Houston the 1-0 lead, setting a hopeful tone for the remainder of the inning.
Infielder Marwin Gonzalez worked a six-pitch walk putting himself on base with Jason Castro due up behind him. Castro became the first out of the inning on a line drive to right fielder Kole Calhoun – a man who once played hero on the same night the Angels used his bobble head as a promotion.
Houston held onto the one-run lead for two innings until Pujols a two-run bomb during the bottom of the fifth inning off Brett Oberholtzer. It was Albert’s 22nd long ball of the season and it wouldn’t be his last of the evening.
Oberholtzer (2-1, 2.81 ERA) gave up only two earned runs on four hits while issuing four walks and striking out five across 5 1/3 innings of work in his sixth start of the campaign.
Pujols would record his 23rd home run of the season on a solo shot to center field off reliever Josh Fields, extending the Angels lead to 3-1. The Astros would rally in the eighth inning when Gonzalez put himself in scoring position with a double to right field shortly after Preston Tucker lined out to lead-off the frame.
Castro cut the lead down to just one on an RBI single to Mike Trout in center field, pushing Gonzalez across to score.
Outfielder George Springer – who has been hot in the batter’s box this past week – was called out on strikes for the second out with rookie phenom Carlos Correa on deck. Correa managed to get himself on base with a six-pitch walk of his own, putting runners on second and first with All-Star hopeful, Jose Altuve right behind him.
Altuve picked up his 12th double of the season, driving in Castro from second and advancing Correa to third. Evan Gattis would eventually be shut down via the strikeout with Huston Street on the mound to retire the side, limiting the damage.