Astros: Baker makes key move, leads to Altuve birthday slam

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 06: Jose Altuve #27 of the Houston Astros singles during the first inning against Gerrit Cole #45 of the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on May 06, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 06: Jose Altuve #27 of the Houston Astros singles during the first inning against Gerrit Cole #45 of the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on May 06, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /
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The Houston Astros escape a sweep from the New York Yankees with a 7-4 win, after bright performances from Jose Altuve, Yordan Alvarez and Martin Maldonado. As I bashed Manager Dusty Baker for his bullpen moves last night, it is worth noting that he made a great move in the lineup before Altuve’s home run. This shot puts the second baseman at tenth all-time in the franchise with 135 home runs.

While Lance McCullers Jr. got to meet the bat of Giancarlo Stanton, the right-hander posted a quality start with three runs surrendered over six innings of work. As a wonky play in the infield granted an earned run to Ryan Pressly, the bullpen was much stronger on Thursday compared to Wednesday’s implosion.

Baker makes great pinch hit move, that ends with a three run slam from Jose Altuve.

While Maldonado gets back to the lineup after a scary collision at the plate, the right-hander went 3-for-4 with a two-run home run. As we are looking to see more platoon action with Jason Castro, it is great to see Maldonado’s bat finally come around.

Before Altuve launched his birthday slam, Baker’s move to pinch hit Aledmys Diaz for Myles Straw was a genius in the end. While Diaz has been on a tear recently, you have to let him hit over Straw, who hasn’t been outstanding at the plate.

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Diaz rocketed his single to third and beat out the throw. As Tucker escaped to third base on the throw, Diaz was pinch ran for by Chas McCormick. This sequence doesn’t look that important in words, but imagine if Straw had stayed at the plate and didn’t get on base or grounded into a double play.

There were so many possibilities of outcomes, but the fact is, Baker made some key in-game adjustments that put the Astros in the position to win. While some fans are wanting the experiment to end, Baker is proving them wrong with today’s game, as he also used only two bullpen arms.

As the shift led to an earned run in the eighth inning for Pressly, it is interesting whether Joe Espada is making that call or the traditionalism is Baker is diminishing. While being that late into the ball game with a runner on base, you had to play straight up at some point or choose to get unlucky.

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The Astros are back on the field on Friday to open a three game set with the Toronto Blue Jays, as George Springer’s return is plagued by injury. While Jake Odorizzi is now expected one to two rehab starts, he will not be making his return to the rotation just yet and will require another bullpen before seeing the minor leagues.

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