BALTIMORE -- The Astros were poised for their third combined no-hitter in franchise history. That was, until the eighth inning of Monday’s contest at Camden Yards.
It helps to get a win when your starting pitcher tosses five innings of scoreless baseball and fans a season-high nine batters. Odorizzi issued his first walk of the game in the fifth inning -- snapping his streak of 13 straight batters retired to start the game and ending the chance for a perfect game.
“I knew, but I really wasn't paying attention to it. Like I was just going to keep doing the same stuff,” Odorizzi said. “The third time through they made an adjustment -- they didn't swing at the top of the zone ball. But other than that, [I was] pretty much comfortable with what was working. I told you guys from the get-go, just give me some time. The more and more starts I get, the more I get back to normal.”
Cristian Javier needed just 28 pitches to get through the sixth and seventh innings and continued Odorizzi's domination of the Orioles' lineup.
“I wasn't aware of that or thinking about that too much,” said Javier when asked if he knew about the no-hit bid going on at that point in the game. “I was just trying to get in there and attack the zone as much as possible and get ahead of hitters.”
Manager Dusty Baker was more than impressed with the way Odorizzi and Javier threw the ball. He’s seen his starter find his groove over the past few outings, and his reliever continue his excellence. But then rain put a wrench in Baker's plans.
A 41-minute rain delay in the top of the eighth -- which was the second rain delay of the night, after a one-hour delay prior to first pitch -- stopped the game and the momentum for the Astros pitching staff. Just three batters later the combined no-no was broken up when Brandon Bielak allowed his third homer of the season, a two-run shot to Maikel Franco.
However, Baker thought the no-hit bid could have lasted longer if it weren’t for a missed strike three pitch. Bielak had an 0-2 count on Franco. Then the third pitch he tossed in the at-bat was called a ball.
“The breaking ball, which [would have] made a strike three, was a big pitch,” said Baker. “Then, they have a slider on the inside, and then Franco hits it out of the park. So, that was -- I don't know. You always want a no-hitter if there is a chance for a no-hitter. More importantly, we won the game and came out of it with no injuries.”
Houston’s win probability was all but guaranteed after the offense scored five runs in the third, centered on a three-run blast from Yordan Alvarez -- his 10th homer of the season -- to put the Astros ahead early.
Houston's offense then added five more insurance runs -- two in the seventh and three in the eighth -- scoring double-digit runs for the eighth time this season. The victory was the Astros' eighth in a row, which marks a new season-high winning streak for the club. Not only is it the longest active win streak in the Majors, but it also ties the Astros’ longest from last season.