The Astros’ deadline acquisitions, Mancini, Vazquez, and Smith, all appeared in Wednesday afternoon’s game as they avoided the sweep against Boston.
The Houston Astros managed to salvage a victory in their series against the Red Sox on Wednesday afternoon, beating them by a score of 6-1, and for the first time, all 3 of their trade deadline acquisitions made an appearance in the orange and blue. Trey Mancini, Christian Vazquez, and Will Smith all took the field in the victory, and one of them played an instrumental role in the win. Mancini made a pinch-hit appearance in the 9th inning of Tuesday’s loss, but both he and Vazquez were in the starting lineup on Wednesday, and Smith finished the game with a scoreless 9th.
Mancini, the first big name the Astros got at the deadline, launched a 2-run home run in the 2nd inning off Rich Hill to extend Houston’s lead to 4-0. According to MLB’s Statcast, the ball traveled 377 feet, and considering it was hit to straight-away left field, it would not have been a home run in his previous home park at Camden Yards in Baltimore. Mancini has quickly endeared himself to the Astros fanbase with his humility and his comments on how welcome he has felt in Houston so far, and he called the home run one of the highlights of his career in his postgame interview.
Christian Vazquez also made his first start with the team after being acquired with just under 24 hours until the deadline. He went 0 for 4 with a strikeout, but he was behind the plate for an extremely impressive start from Jose Urquidy, who made the Astros feel good about not trading him by going 7 shutout innings and taking a no-hitter into the 6th. He surrendered just 3 baserunners all game and tied his career-high in strikeouts with 10, and manager Dusty Baker gave kudos to Vazquez for his familiarity with Urquidy’s game plan on the mound.
With a 6-run lead entering the 9th, Will Smith made his debut with the team, and it didn’t go as he wanted but he still managed to lock the game down. With 1 out, he gave up a solo shot to Xander Bogaerts that spoiled the shutout. In fairness to Smith, with its distance and exit velocity, that home run would have been a flyout nearly everywhere else, but getting a feel for Minute Maid Park against a lineup with many capable right-handed hitters is something that he is going to have to figure out. On the bright side, Smith did manage to finish the inning on 13 pitches and 10 of them were strikes. He didn’t throw more than a single ball per at bat, so the control problem that has been nagging him all season was not there today.
The Astros are now heading to Cleveland to begin a 4-game weekend series against the Guardians. The Mariners’ win against the Yankees this afternoon kept the Astros’ lead on the AL West at 11 games. Houston’s pitching probables for the Cleveland series are as follows: Justin Verlander on Thursday, Framber Valdez on Friday, Luis Garcia on Saturday, and Christian Javier on Sunday. The Guardians improved to 54-50 on Wednesday, and they sit just a game back of both first place in their division and the final AL playoff seed.