ANAHEIM -- The moral of the story for the Astros on Tuesday night at Angel Stadium: All’s well that ends well.
Kyle Tucker’s RBI single in the top of the ninth broke a tie and gave the Astros a 6-5 win. That clutch hit went a long way toward helping Houston forget one of its worst innings of the season so far.
They couldn’t forget it entirely, though.
“They say there’s no such thing as an ugly win, but that wasn’t very pretty,” said manager Dusty Baker.
The Astros entered the bottom of the seventh up by four, in part thanks to a strong six-inning, one-run, one-hit performance from Luis Garcia. But that lead evaporated in an uncharacteristically sloppy frame that featured two errors, two walks, a run-scoring hit-by-pitch and a run-scoring passed ball.
Phil Maton was the first man up behind Garcia, and he retired the first batter he faced. He would not retire another. A 10-pitch at-bat ended with Luis Rengifo drawing a walk, after which Maton induced a grounder to the mound. Rather than get the sure out at first base, Maton decided to throw to second to try to get the double play, but he got a bad grip on the ball and threw wide of the bag.
That was followed by another defensive miscue, this one a throwing error to second by Alex Bregman to load the bases. It was just the second time this season the Astros have recorded two errors in one inning.
“It ultimately is one of those things where we shouldn't have even been in that situation,” said Maton. “If I flip the ball to first base, we get that ground ball, that's a routine play to first and yeah, we’re not having this conversation.”
Maton then hit Brandon Marsh with a pitch to bring in a run, at which point Rafael Montero took over. Montero gave up a two-out, two-run single to pinch-hitter David MacKinnon, and a passed ball by catcher Martín Maldonado made it a tie game.
Although none of the four runs the Angels scored in the bottom of the seventh were earned, it was a less-than-banner performance for arguably the best bullpen in baseball.
Fortunately for the Astros, the offense was able to bail them out. With the score still knotted entering the top of the ninth, Jose Altuve led off with a walk, took third on Aledmys Díaz’s base hit (despite an unsuccessful Angels challenge that Altuve didn’t touch second) and scored on Tucker’s single to put the Astros back on top. It was Tucker’s 60th RBI of the season, tied with Yordan Alvarez for most on the team, as well as for eighth most in MLB.
“I mean, the RBIs are the guys in front of me getting on base,” said Tucker. “They're the ones scoring. It seems like they're always on base when I come up to hit, and in scoring position and whatnot. So that's a huge testament to them getting on base in front of me. Just making it a little easier for me during my AB’s to try and drive them in.”
Closer Ryan Pressly then closed things out with a clean bottom of the ninth. The Astros moved to 57-29, growing their American League West lead to 12 1/2 games over the Mariners, whose contest vs. the Nationals was postponed.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a game where they get two hits and five runs without a homer,” said Baker. “We didn’t play very well in that seventh, but we came back and we won. I'm hoping that we don't play like this for a long time again.”