CLEVELAND -- Astros reliever Chris Devenski was dazzling Thursday night, escaping a jam in the fifth inning and striking out four consecutive batters during one stretch, including three in the sixth. He was one out away from polishing off another strong outing before Francisco Lindor changed the course of the
CLEVELAND -- Astros reliever Chris Devenski was dazzling Thursday night, escaping a jam in the fifth inning and striking out four consecutive batters during one stretch, including three in the sixth. He was one out away from polishing off another strong outing before Francisco Lindor changed the course of the night in the seventh inning.
Lindor crushed a 2-0 changeup -- Devenski's best pitch -- and sent it 456 feet, according to Statcast™, for the longest homer of his career. The two-run shot scored Yan Gomes, who walked with one out, and sent the Astros to a 4-3 loss on Thursday night.
"[It was a] 2-0 changeup, [Lindor] put a good piece on it and drove it out of the park," Devenski said. "I think the walk is what hurt me prior to that. [I'll] keep my head up and keep moving forward, and we'll face these guys again sometime."
The one-out walk to Gomes was only Devenski's second this season in 16 2/3 innings, against 32 strikeouts.
Astros manager A.J. Hinch brought Devenski in with two outs in the fifth, and watched him retire Lindor and Michael Brantley to strand a runner at third. He struck out Jose Ramirez, Jason Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall in succession to cruise through the sixth, then fanned Abraham Almonte to start the seventh before walking Gomes.
"That was an incredible display there, coming in in the fifth inning," Hinch said. "Obviously, I called on him early. He made his pitches. They won the biggest at-bat, they won the biggest defensive play, they won the game by one."
Indians manager Terry Francona raved about Devenski during the series, and the Lindor homer didn't change his mind about the pitcher's effectiveness.
"You can tell by the way, where they brought him in, the situation, how much confidence they have in him," he said. "Which, I can see why. Fortunately, Frankie got one of those where the split-change -- whatever you call it -- he got it up and hit it. Because he's got a fastball, breaking ball, deception, not walking anybody. I think we had one walk. He's tremendous. Sometimes you need good players to step up."
What makes Devenski so tough is the arm action on his changeup, which can then be followed by a mid-90s fastball that looks the same out of his hand.
"So, it's tough to be in between," Lindor said. "He makes you chase. He's pitching the ball very well right now. I think he's got, how many, 32 strikeouts and one walk? Two walks now. He walked Gomey. He's pitching very well. You've got to tip our hats to him, because he's doing a hell of a job right now."
By going to Devenski with two outs in the fifth, Hinch showed his confidence in the pitcher.
"I want him facing Lindor in that spot for us every time," he said. "He's been so good for us, I'm not going to take anything away from this, other than he stepped up again and just got beat on one pitch."
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.