Astros fall on walk-off HR, await Seattle

September 6th, 2021

SAN DIEGO -- Facing Padres closer Mark Melancon, the Astros had a chance to take a late lead if they could get the big hit they had been searching for on Sunday afternoon.

and drew back-to-back walks to start the ninth against the All-Star hurler, but grounded into a double play and struck out looking to end the frame, leaving the Astros empty-handed in a 4-3 loss at Petco Park that ended with a walk-off home run by Jake Cronenworth.

“You got to move forward, but that hurts,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “Certainly hurts today, big time -- and makes for a long trip back home. … We battled back and battled back. We had [Melancon] on the ropes, nobody out, first and second. We had him on the ropes still [with] first and third, and we just couldn't come up with the big hit.”

The Astros also had another offensive chance early in the ballgame. In the first inning, they had runners on first and third with no outs but settled for one run on an single after Tucker flied out and Gurriel grounded into an inning-ending double play.

“We had action,” Baker said. “[We were] just hitting into some untimely double plays, which sort of ends a rally. But we still had some action.”

Despite having an early offensive spark, the Astros struggled to find consistency against Padres starter Chris Paddack. Houston trailed 3-1 through six innings after Luis Garcia gave up three runs in the first.

“I feel like just from start to finish it was a close game,” Gurriel said through an interpreter. “We had the opportunity there in the end and just, unfortunately, we weren't able to score the run. The mentality was always to be able to score the winning run, and we just weren't able to do that.”

Houston had 12 hard-hit balls (balls in play with an exit velocity of 95 mph or more) against Paddack, according to Statcast. Only three of those resulted in hits, which included solo home runs in the seventh inning from Gurriel and Correa that chased Paddack.

A day after losing 10-2 to the Friars, Baker said the close one Sunday hurts even more.

"We hit some balls on the nose all day long,” Baker said. “Yesterday as well. But today the score was different than it was yesterday. It stands out even more today. You can't guide the ball.”

The Astros went 4-5 on their road trip against Texas, Seattle and San Diego. Their lead in the American League West stands at 4 1/2 games over the Mariners and 5 1/2 games over the A’s, with a three-game home series against Seattle set to begin on Monday at Minute Maid Park.

“I'd rather [have it] been the reverse,” Baker said on the 4-5 road trip. “We're fortunate to be where we are because [the A’s are] losing, we're losing. The only team seeming like it's winning is Seattle.”