SAN FRANCISCO -- Marwin Gonzalez hasn't come up huge this year like he did in 2017. This road trip, highlighted by his game-winning three-run homer Monday night, is giving him a chance to change all that.The Astros were down to their final out when Gonzalez, a 90-RBI man a year
SAN FRANCISCO -- Marwin Gonzalez hasn't come up huge this year like he did in 2017. This road trip, highlighted by his game-winning three-run homer Monday night, is giving him a chance to change all that.
The Astros were down to their final out when Gonzalez, a 90-RBI man a year ago, jumped on a two-seamer from Giants lefty Will Smith and lashed it into the left-field seats, turning a deficit into a 3-1 Houston win.
The switch-hitting Gonzalez hadn't hit a homer all season off a left-hander, but on this trip he has four bombs, and three of them are against lefties.
"I don't have the answer to that," Gonzalez said. "If I had the answer, i would have started two months ago, three months ago. I've been feeling a little better. I haven't been able to help the offense like last year, but it's a battle and we're grinding."
The Houston offense is without the men up the middle -- catcher Brian McCann, second baseman Jose Altuve and shortstop Carlos Correa. Outfielder George Springer went on the DL Monday. And in a National League park, the Astros can't play Evan Gattis, either. So it's up to the guys who are left to pick up the slack if the Astros are going to hold off the Oakland A's, who sit 4 1/2 games behind them in the American League West.
"We're going to have them," Gonzalez said of the missing stars. "Carlos will be here soon. And George. We hope that we can have Jose back in a little bit, too."
The homer made a winner out of Roberto Osuna in his first game since being acquired from Toronto. He threw five pitches in a quiet eighth inning after seven one-run innings from starter Charlie Morton. Hector Rondon pitched the ninth and earned his 12th save.
"What Osuna did there was great," Rondon said. "He was amazing, amazing. He was a big part to what we did tonight. He came in and dominated those hitters."
It was the kind of performance that the defending World Series champions expect of themselves, injured or not.
"I know that we miss those guys, but these guys who are here, they are good too," Rondon said. "We come here every day trying to win the game."
There wouldn't have been a game to salvage were it not for Morton. He allowed just three hits. And while one of them landed in the right-field seats courtesy of Brandon Crawford, Morton said he could count this one among his best games of the year.
"It's not so much about the A's or [third-place] Seattle," Morton said of the importance of this game. "It's more about the guys coming in and doing a job. And the way they did it was awesome."
Gonzalez, who was at second base Monday night, has started at least 10 times at four different positions this season: left field (37), shortstop (26), first base (20) and second base (12). He's also started twice at third base.
HE SAID IT
"This was a special game for me. I'm excited to be here, and the guys have been great to me. I'm really comfortable in this clubhouse already." -- Osuna
Manager AJ Hinch isn't running a strict catcher platoon with two right-handed catchers, but he likes Max Stassi against left-handed pitching, so Stassi will catch Dallas Keuchel against the Giants' Madison Bumgarner on Tuesday at 2:45 p.m. CT at AT&T Park.
John Hickey III is a contributor to MLB.com based in the Bay Area.