MIAMI – Over the past few days, manager Dusty Baker has consistently described the Astros as not “clicking on all cylinders.” Houston entered Tuesday night’s game in Miami looking to avoid a three-game losing streak for the first time since June 15-19.
Despite some blowouts from the Astros, Houston won 6-5 at Depot Park to even the series thanks to a trio of long balls from across the lineup.
The night started like Houston’s two previous contests: with missed chances. After Jose Altuve singled after an error on a first pitch off his left knee (he went out with a bruised knee day in and day out), Alex Bregman grounded into a double play. Kyle Tucker and Yordan Alvarez reached on one pass and walk, but Yener Diaz hit to chop them both on first and second.
But the missed opportunities went down the defensive side. In the third, Christian Javier—who allowed five runs (four earned) with six hits and one homer, struck out only two—left a four-seam fastball into the area to break Jorge Soler in the third, which resulted in a two-run homer to give Miami the lead by 3. -0.
“[Javier] Becker said. “He pitched a few bad pitches, and he paid for it.”
Two innings later, after the evening, with the score at 4-4, the Astros pulled off a routine allowing the Marlins to regain the lead. With two outs and Joey Wendell on first, Mauricio Dupont (who entered at second for Altuve) fielded Josh Bell. But Dupont threw the ball wide from first base. Recovering the ball, Javier, who backed him up first, quickly threw the ball to third base, trying to catch Wendle. His throw was just wide of the bag, though, and Wendell came home to score.
“In that fifth inning, we kind of fell apart defensively,” Baker said. “[Javier’s] Part of it, just frustrating trying to get the rider out in third. But we saved Chas [McCormick] And by Tucker again. Then ours came along and did a great job.”
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Diaz redeemed himself from that final blow three runs later, rolling a two-part homer by Statcast for 409 feet to left-center field in response to Soler’s homer, leading the Marlins to a 3–0 lead.
“[It feels really good [seeing Diaz homer]Javier said via team interpreter Genloy Herrera. “[It’s] Something that gives you confidence. He told me before that, he was like, “Don’t worry, we’re going to tie this match up.” And he went out and hit that home.”
Chas McCormick followed with a solo blast in the sixth to tie the score at 5-5 before Tucker—who is eyeing a 30-30 season—fired his 23rd long ball of the year in the seventh to second in right-center field. Tucker’s homer, who left his bat at an exiting 108 mph and rose to a 422-foot Statcast, gave Houston their first lead of the Series.
“That was big for us,” Becker said. “And like I said, we left some runners out there early. But they hit the ball more outfield than us. But we came [out] In the end and you win the second half of the ball game, and that’s what you need to do. We’re just lucky to win that game, especially after that [those] Fifth inning errors that we had there, so it’s good.”
The homeowners provided Javier with what the Astros lacked the night before behind Framper Valdez: crucial run support.
“Obviously it feels good to have some support behind me there, the team kept competing and didn’t put its head down,” Javier said.
Beyond that, though, Javier had a laid-back base behind him, something Valdez didn’t have—and didn’t need—in the series opener. Four relievers, including Hunter Brown (who was moved to the ‘Pen for the series), combined for 4 1/3 scoreless frames while allowing only two hits and one walk.
So what does it take for the Astros to get “on all cylinders clicking?”
“I don’t know,” Becker said. “We’ve been trying to get it to click all year, so it will click. It’s just a matter of when. Sometimes you have to wait for it to click. You can’t really force it—if you could, it would have happened a long time ago. Some time it’s up, some it’s our turn and our days.” – Because every team [has a] Six, seven, eight, ten straight wins, and we’re not there yet. We play baseball consistent, but not hot baseball.”
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