5 HRs and a late rally: Astros nearly come back

April 22nd, 2019

ARLINGTON -- The pitchers’ mound at Globe Life Park is about the last place you would have wanted to be Sunday afternoon. A swirling wind turned fly balls into adventures for fielders and hardened the field so much that ground balls shot to the outfield like rockets.

Just ask Astros starter Collin McHugh, who was rocked for a career-high 10 runs (nine earned) in 3 1/3 innings as the Rangers built a nine-run lead. And just ask the Texas bullpen, which nearly coughed it up before Shawn Kelley struck out Robinson Chirinos to strand the bases loaded in the ninth and send the Astros to an 11-10 loss.

“It’s really frustrating,” McHugh said. “Our team, we’ve got a lot of guys who can do a lot of damage, especially in hitting conditions like today. As a starting pitcher, your job has to be to keep it close and keep them in the game, and it got out of hand really early. I wasn’t able to stop the bleeding in a couple of innings.”

The Astros nearly rallied from a 10-1 deficit by hitting a season-high five homers over the final four innings, but there were so many other critical moments that didn’t go their way -- Michael Brantley’s bases-loaded line drive in the third that went for a sacrifice fly instead of a bases-clearing hit, and a mile-high popup (it was in the air 7.3 seconds, according to Statcast) in the infield by Joey Gallo in the sixth that dropped to the ground for an RBI hit.

“At the end of the day you either win or you lose, but I think it’s come to be expected that we’re going to keep fighting, so I’m proud of our guys for that,” Astros manager AJ Hinch said. “We gave ourselves a ton of opportunities throughout the rest of the game. At 10-1, it didn’t look good, it didn’t feel good, we didn’t play good. At that point forward, we put together some really good at-bats.”

Still, Houston’s rally was something to behold. Here’s how it got back into the game.

Bregman, Brantley go back-to-back

The Astros were trailing, 10-1, in the sixth when Alex Bregman and Brantley homered on consecutive pitches to start the sixth off Rangers starter Shelby Miller. The Astros scored three more runs later in the inning on a two-run triple by Aledmys Diaz, who later scored on a Chirinos sac fly. The Rangers’ lead had been cut to four runs.

“You never want to ever give an at-bat away in this game, so I think guys just went up there and tried to battle and came up short, but put up a good fight,” said Bregman, who also hit a 404-foot flyout to the wall in straightaway center in the seventh.

Correa, Reddick homer in eighth

Carlos Correa led off the eighth with a homer to left off Chris Martin, and Josh Reddick blasted a homer to right one batter later to slice the lead to 11-8. Correa snapped a seven-game homerless streak, and Reddick’s homer punctuated a 3-for-4 day.

“We were trying to get to their bullpen because we have a good feeling that they’re going to throw their guys anyway whenever we get anywhere close to them,” Reddick said.

Nail-biting time in the ninth

George Springer began the inning with a homer off closer Jose Leclerc to put the pressure on the Rangers, whose lead was down to 11-9. The Astros proceeded to work counts with good at-bats and drew three walks to load the bases with two outs.

Jose Altuve, who didn’t start, came off the bench and drew a pinch-hit walk to force home Bregman and make it a one-run game, 11-10, bringing Astros players and coaches to the top steps of the dugout. Kelley saved the day for the Rangers by striking out Chirinos to strand the bases loaded.

“There was a lot of adrenaline at the end,” Hinch said. “I thought each of those guys had good swings on pitches. We get a hit there and this whole story you guys are writing is different.”