CLEVELAND -- The pitchers' duel a distant memory, the Astros and Indians locked themselves in a back-and-forth struggle in the final innings that exhausted nearly every relief option.Although the Astros pounced on a tiring Trevor Bauer and a beat-up relief corps for a six-run eighth inning, a bullpen disaster of
CLEVELAND -- The pitchers' duel a distant memory, the Astros and Indians locked themselves in a back-and-forth struggle in the final innings that exhausted nearly every relief option.
Although the Astros pounced on a tiring Trevor Bauer and a beat-up relief corps for a six-run eighth inning, a bullpen disaster of their own led to a demoralizing 10-9 loss on Greg Allen's 14th-inning walk-off home run at Progressive Field to split the four-game series.
"There were a lot of twists and turns in that game," Astros manager AJ Hinch, who was ejected in the sixth, said. "Whoever lost this game was going to feel like they should've won the game, and that we should be walking out of here with a win."
Bauer had stymied the Astros through seven innings with a season-high 13 strikeouts and just four hits allowed. But when Bauer came out for the eighth with 110 pitches -- in part due to the Indians' scuffling bullpen -- the Astros' offense came alive. George Springer hit a one-out double to left-center field, and Alex Bregman worked a walk that ended Bauer's day at 127 pitches.
The Indians turned to Evan Marshall to hold the one-run lead, but the white-hot Jose Altuve could not be stopped. Altuve singled through the left side for his 10th straight hit -- extending his franchise record -- tying the game at 3. Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel followed with singles of their own, which ended Marshall's day, and Evan Gattis broke open the game with a monstrous 406-foot home run to left field off Ben Taylor.
But all the offense would be for naught, as the Astros' bullpen could not hold the five-run lead. Closer Ken Giles, who had not thrown in the last three games, came in to throw the ninth but found trouble from the start. Jose Ramirez worked a 17-pitch at-bat that ended in a double, and Giles was lifted after giving up two more singles.
"Obviously it creates some energy in their dugout, because it's a big at-bat," Hinch said. "It's so rare to have an at-bat go that long, it also takes our closer out of the game. It's hard to run him up to 30 or 35 pitches. It completely changed the complexion of that inning, both in putting some energy into the start of their inning and also impacting our pitching. It was quite an at-bat."
Will Harris allowed a pair of singles, and Hector Rondon couldn't stop the bleeding, giving up two more RBI singles to bring the game to a tie.
The Astros offense could not muster much of anything following the big eighth inning. After Gattis' first home run, the team went 1-for-17 until Gattis went deep again, this time off Dan Otero in the 13th inning. But that run was quickly erased on Yonder Alonso's solo home run to lead off the bottom of the frame, and the next inning, Allen ended the game on Brad Peacock's first pitch of the 14th.
The tough finish spoiled a strong outing from starter Gerrit Cole, who outdueled his former UCLA teammate over seven innings. Although he was tagged for three runs in the first two innings, he settled in for a dominating afternoon with eight strikeouts.
Over his final five frames, Cole gave up just one hit -- a leadoff single in the third that was negated on a double play two batters later. He recorded six of his final 15 outs via strikeout and pounded the zone for 73.6 percent strikes during that stretch, including throwing 24 of 28 pitches for strikes to the final eight batters.
"It was quite a game," Hinch said. "You'd never guess in a game like that how well the starters actually threw. There was a lot of action after the starters came out of the game on both sides."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Unstoppable Altuve: Altuve could hardly have been hotter over the last few games as he broke his old franchise record for consecutive at-bats with a hit at 10. After picking up two key hits in Friday's rally and going 4-for-4 on Saturday, Altuve singled to center in the first and reached on an infield single in the fourth. The reigning American League Most Valuable Player came through with the key RBI double in the sixth and then capped off the day with an RBI single to spark their six-run eighth.
"You don't think about hits, you're not counting hits -- you're trying to win games," Altuve said. "I guess after two games, my teammates say, 'Oh, you got 10 hits.' You're like, 'OK, that's fun.' But in the middle of the game it's hard to think about, 'Oh I got 1, 2, 3, 4 … "
Gold Glove Yuli: Things were spiraling out of control for the Astros in the ninth inning until first baseman Gurriel came up with perhaps the best defensive play of the game. With the game tied and two on and two out, Ramirez hit a screaming line drive down the line at 102.3 mph with a 70 percent hit probability. Somehow Gurriel was able to dive and catch the ball to save the game, sending it to extra innings.
"That's another play that -- again I saw it on TV -- but 100 mph off the bat, game on the line, that's a reaction play," Hinch said. "It certainly kept the game alive."
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Chris Devenski took a liner off his right leg from Allen to open the eighth, but he made an extremely athletic play to get the out. After the deflected ball made it all the way into foul territory in front of first, he slid in front of the speedy Allen while turning his body and made the backhanded flip to Gurriel for the out. All as planned, of course.
Hinch was ejected from his first game of the season after arguing with home plate umpire Tony Randazzo in the top of the sixth inning. After Altuve took a third straight ball from Bauer, Hinch stood at the edge of the dugout and chirped at the umpire, who yelled back, "Don't tell me where to look," and ran Hinch after he continued to argue.
"The strike zone was and usually always is an issue when it's something like that," Hinch said after the game. "But honestly, I felt like he was a little too engaged with our dugout and not worried about what was going on on the field. I told him that, he didn't really like that, and he had a little short temper, and I ended up coming out of the game. It was a disagreement about where his attention should be, and it certainly shouldn't be in the dugout."
The Astros travel to the Bronx to open a three-game series with Justin Verlander taking the mound against Domingo German at 12:05 p.m. CT on Memorial Day. Verlander has held opponents to one earned run or fewer in five straight starts, including a May 1 start against the Yankees in which he threw eight scoreless innings, with three hits and 14 strikeouts.
Ben Weinrib is a contributor to MLB.com based in Cleveland.