Astros outfielder Michael Brantley was back in the starting lineup for Thursday's thrilling 4-3 win over the Rays in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series. He served as the designated hitter after fouling two balls off his right foot in the seventh inning of the Game 4 win over the Rays on Wednesday at Petco Park in San Diego. X-rays on Brantley’s foot were negative, manager Dusty Baker said, but Brantley was hobbled.
Brantley went 1-for-4, but that hit proved to be a crucial two-run single that gave Houston a 3-1 lead in the third. Tampa Bay tied it up with a pair of late solo home runs before Carlos Correa belted a walk-off shot in the ninth.
The Astros removed Brantley from Wednesday’s win in the eighth inning as a precaution. Baker said he was having a lot of treatment to get ready to play on Thursday.
“He said he couldn’t run if he had to run after a fly ball [on Wednesday],” Baker said. “He would have trouble catching it. I hated to take him out. You hate taking Michael out any time, because if you play extra innings and his spot comes up, that’s a nightmare.”
Astros closer Ryan Pressly, meanwhile, told MLB Network Radio on Thursday that he tweaked his hamstring when he landed awkwardly on the mound after throwing a pitch in the ninth inning of Game 4. Pressly said he landed halfway between his landing spot and the one that had been created by Rays starter Tyler Glasnow.
“I slipped a little bit,” Pressly said. “I was trying to find my footing out there for the most part. Those are those things you can’t make excuses for. You’ve just got to battle through it and try to figure out how you’re going to get it done.”
But Pressly was pressed into action as well on Thursday, and he provided 1 1/3 scoreless innings of clutch relief to close out the Rays. He earned the victory, allowing one hit and striking out two.
Pettis visits Petco to see the Astros
Astros third-base coach Gary Pettis, who’s been away from the team the past month while he undergoes treatment for multiple myeloma, made the short drive to San Diego from his home in San Clemente, Calif., on Thursday to watch Game 5. Because of COVID-19 protocols, Pettis wasn’t able to be in the clubhouse or around the players, but his presence at the game served as an inspiration, Baker said.
“He’s been talking to guys and Zoom-calling with the guys every day,” Baker said. “That was a big reason we won [Wednesday] night, or else Gary couldn’t come the ballpark today. We’d like him to come every day this week.”
Pettis left the Astros on Sept. 15 because of hip discomfort, which led to the diagnosis of multiple myeloma, defined as a cancer of plasma cells. Omar Lopez has moved from the first-base coaching box to third in Pettis’ absence, and quality control coach Chris Speier has been coaching first base.
Astros outfielder Josh Reddick, who’s close to Pettis, said the two have been talking and texting quite a bit during the playoffs. The Astros hung Pettis’ No. 8 jersey in their dugout in Game 2 of the ALCS.
“It’s always good to have to his support,” Reddick said. “We look forward to looking from the dugout and seeing him up in the stands and giving him some love and just waving at him and seeing he’s doing OK. … It’s probably going to be just as a big of a mood pick-up for both sides, to have him out here for us and showing his support, and I think for him to come out here and show the guys some love is going to be good for him as well.”
“Well, they are both little and they’re both second basemen and they’re both very powerful. I mean, these guys are twin Mighty Mouses. … Look up Mighty Mouse. Mighty was a bad little dude, man. He had super strength. And that they didn’t let size hold them down.” -- Baker, on comparing Hall of Famer Joe Morgan to Astros second baseman Jose Altuve