Anatomy of rally: Astros' 4-run 8th seals 'W'

Houston has won 6 of 7, including the first 3 of a 4-game set vs. Seattle

April 29th, 2021

HOUSTON -- The eighth inning started ominously for the Astros, with Alex Bregman hitting a 105 mph grounder back to Mariners pitcher Rafael Montero for an out to give the Mariners an 89 percent win probability. Trailing by two runs, the Astros were down to their final five outs Wednesday night and somehow needed to find a hero.

They found some in pinch-hitters Jason Castro and Aledmys Díaz, center fielder Myles Straw -- and even Mariners first baseman Evan White, whose errant throw helped keep the line moving to allow the Astros to score four times in the eighth and win, 7-5, at Minute Maid Park.

The Astros won for the first time in eight games this year when trailing after seven innings by battling back from a 5-2 hole -- their largest deficit overcome to win a game this year. Houston has won six of seven games, including the first three of a four-game series against Seattle without hitting a home run.

“We’ve got a streak going now,” Straw said.

Here’s how the win probability swayed in Houston’s four-run rally in the eighth, which began with the Mariners holding a 5-3 lead and Montero on the mound (86 percent win probability):

• Back-to-back singles by Kyle Tucker and Yuli Gurriel after the Bregman groundout brought the tying run to the plate: Carlos Correa. Montero was sitting at 18 pitches and still needed two outs to get out of the inning and now had traffic on the bases.

Mariners: 76 percent win probability

“He’s getting better every day,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said of Tucker, who has struggled this year. “He’s due for a whole bunch of hits.”

• Correa hit a grounder right at White at first base, but his throw to second to try to force Gurriel sailed well wide of the bag and into left field for an error. Tucker scored to cut the lead to 5-4. Montero now had the tying run at second base and the go-ahead run at first base. Díaz emerged as a pinch-hitter.

Mariners: 60 percent win probability

“Don’t try to be the hero,” Díaz said. “Just pass the baton to the guy behind you. We made the pitcher pay when they threw strikes. It was a great team effort today. We tried to hit the strikes and get the walks.”

• Díaz came off the bench and singled to left-center to score Gurriel from second base with the tying run. Straw, who reached base all four times he came to the plate, followed with a walk to load the bases for Castro and force a pitching change.

Astros: 67 percent win probability

“I know [Montero] is usually the closer and I knew his pitch count was kind of up there,” Straw said. “I could kind of tell he was fatigued. Usually, he’s in the zone a little bit more and I saw a few of his pitches. Especially to me, he kind of yanked a few. So I was patient with him and moved it on to the next batter.”

• Facing right-hander Will Vest, Castro drew a walk to force home Correa and put the Astros ahead, 6-5. It marked the fourth time in Castro’s career he’s recorded an RBI as a pinch-hitter and first since April 9, 2020, against the Mets.

Astros: 77 percent win probability

“Most of the at-bats were quality at-bats, even if you don’t get a hit,” Baker said.

• The Astros got the insurance run they were seeking when Jose Altuve hit a sacrifice fly to right field and scored Díaz. The sac fly was the only productive out the Astros had from their first three hitters in the batting order with Altuve, Michael Brantley and Bregman combining to go 0-for-13.

Astros: 94 percent

“The bottom of the lineup picked us up today,” Baker said. “The top three guys aren’t always going to get hits. You have to have balance up and down the lineup. Someday we’re going to click on all cylinders and I don’t think that’s far off.”