'Masterful' Greinke deals as Astros sweep
The Astros and Indians battled through numerous lead changes until Houston came out on top in the 10th inning with Yuli Gurriel scoring the go-ahead run in the 4-3 win on Sunday afternoon at Progressive Field.
The Astros put the finishing touches on their first regular-season series sweep of the Indians when closer Brooks Raley caught Roberto Pérez’s bunt popup and fired it to second to pick off the go-ahead runner.
The wild play not only put the Astros one out away from ending the game but also closed out a rough stretch of 20 games in 20 days. Right-hander Zack Greinke was tasked to keep the Indians off the board and did so, for the most part, for Houston on the getaway day.
Through the first seven innings against the Indians on Sunday, Greinke held them to two earned runs. He struck out eight hitters and allowed only one walk, but a fastball over the middle of the plate in the eighth inning dented his final line.
With the Astros leading by one run, Greinke retired the first batter he faced in the eighth with a lineout to right field. In the next at-bat, he made one pitch to Cleveland’s Cesar Hernandez, who tied the game with a solo homer. It was the 15th home run Greinke had surrendered this season and the second of the day.
“Zack was masterful today. He made that one mistake on Hernandez with the fastball on the inside," Baker said. "That 10th inning, when I saw the ball pop up, I was just waiting. Raley is a really good athlete. Most left-handers don't like throwing the ball to second base, but he fielded it and didn't panic and threw a strike to second. It shows you what kind of athlete he is.”
While Houston’s pitching dominated on the mound, Chas McCormick’s bat picked up the offense to cap off the road trip. McCormick drove in the first three Houston runs, going 3-for-5 at the plate with two runs scored.
His single in the fourth started the game’s scoring with a line drive that skipped up the middle of the infield, slowly enough for Jason Castro to score from second base. However, it was McCormick's 10th homer of the season that put Houston in control of the game once again.
Carlos Correa led off the sixth with a sharp ground ball to right field and scored as McCormick crushed a 94.5 mph sinker to right field.
“My work in the cage with [hitting coach Troy Snitker] has helped me a lot. [I've been able] to hit the ball to the back side of the field,” McCormick said. “Like I say all the time, you’ve just got to shorten up and have more of a compact swing.”
His approach at the plate powered Greinke in one of his strongest starts of the year. The right-hander described his outing as the best he’s felt all season long as he topped out at 100 pitches (68 strikes) against the Indians.
"I'm good. Felt as good as I have all year, and maybe last year, too,” Greinke said. “My location was really good. I felt really good out there.”
This outing marked the second consecutive start that Greinke allowed three earned runs and walked away with a no-decision. In his last game against the Orioles on June 28, Greinke was tagged for three earned runs on eight hits in five innings. Though the box scores show an increase of hits allowed, the right-hander isn’t letting many of those hits turn into runs.
“There were some stretches earlier in the year where I was making a lot of mistakes, and these last seven, eight games, I've felt really good for most of them,” Greinke said. “I’m just trying not to do too much.”
This marked the Astros’ fourth four-game series sweep of the season as they head back to Houston to open up a pivotal six-game homestand against the Oakland Athletics and New York Yankees on Tuesday.