Yordan provides fireworks with 3-hit show

Bullpen hangs on after tensions flare on Pressly's warning, ejection in the ninth

June 6th, 2022

KANSAS CITY -- With two outs and nobody on in the bottom of the ninth, the Astros were holding a four-run lead over the Royals, ready to retreat to their clubhouse and celebrate what had been a Yordan Alvarez fireworks show.   

But then, the tone at Kauffman Stadium changed. After reliever Ryan Pressly threw two inside pitches to Michael A. Taylor, a warning was issued to Pressly. And when Pressly strenuously objected, he was promptly ejected from the game.   

A seemingly peaceful end to a Sunday afternoon game suddenly got a little wild.

The Astros wound up using two more relievers -- Phil Maton and Rafael Montero. Before they knew it, Houston saw the tying run reach first base. Nicky Lopez grounded out against Montero to bring a collective sigh of relief from the Astros’ dugout, as Houston got out of town with a 7-4 victory.

Crew chief Jerry Meals explained the umpiring thought process after the game. 

“I’ll give it to you short and sweet: He missed twice throwing at Michael A. Taylor,” Meals said. “After the second one, we got together -- because that’s the way MLB wants us to handle it -- and we decided to issue warnings. After the warnings were issued, Pressly argued the warnings, and he was ejected.” 

Pressly adamantly denied that he was throwing at Taylor. In the top of the ninth, Alvarez was hit and it triggered a three-run rally.

“I guess we’re not allowed to pitch inside in the big leagues anymore,” Pressly said. “I would understand if I had gone up and in on him. If I had thrown a pitch by his head. But both those pitches were inside, moving his feet. I’m human. I will miss inside. But to warn me after something like that and then throw me out after questioning him about warning me … you’ve got to be better than that, I think.” 

Manager Dusty Baker couldn’t understand why the umpires felt a warning to Pressly was warranted. 

“For what?” Baker said. “No. We’re trying to get out of here. We’ve got one more out. You certainly don’t want to start a rally right then. It just doesn’t make any sense.”

The Astros had enough to hang on and close out a 6-3 road trip. They reached the ceremonial one-third mark of their season at 35-19, putting them on a pace to win 105 games.  

In the finale of the three-city road trip, Alvarez scalded the ball four times with a deep flyout to center, a line-drive triple, a line-drive single and a 456-foot homer to deep right field that gave Houston a 4-2 lead in the eighth.

“He hit that [homer] a ton,” Baker said. “But I was more impressed with the other [line drives] that he hit.” 

Alvarez capped a banner road trip in which he simply pummeled opposing pitching at Seattle, Oakland and Kansas City. The 24-year-old slugger bashed four homers with nine RBIs in nine games during the stretch.

“I felt good,” Alvarez said through an interpreter. “I felt like I was going to do some damage today.”

The fallout from the Pressly ejection, which required  impromtu appearances by Maton and Montero, means the Astros may not be fully loaded in the bullpen when they open a homestand against Seattle on Monday night. 

But aside from what happened just before the 27th out on Sunday, it was a road trip with plenty of positives. 

“I’m just glad,” Baker said, “to get out of here 6-3.”