• Brian L. Barefield

Astros Score Late Inning Runs To Blowout The Angels

Photo Credit/Houston Astros

Over the last four games, the Houston Astros have seemed to develop a very good habit that I am pretty sure manager Dusty Baker does not want them to break.

Since September 16, Houston has scored 17 runs from the eighth inning on including a combined eight runs in the eighth and ninth inning of a 10-0 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Monday night.

“If you can win the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings, you have a chance to win the ballgame, and if you are behind you have a chance to get back in the ballgame,” Baker said after the game. “I have always managed that way and I always preach to the team to win the eighth and the ninth innings.”

Houston got a leadoff home run from outfielder Jose Siri who was filling in for Kyle Tucker in right field and batting atop of the lineup due to a preplanned rest day for Jose Altuve. The Astros would bring another run across the plate when Carlos Correa hit an RBI single to drive in Yordan Alvarez, who had singled earlier in the inning to give the Astros a two-run lead.

Those two runs would be all that starting pitcher Framber Valdez would need as he shut down the Angels hitters going seven scoreless innings and giving up only six hits.

Photo Credit/Houston Astros

Valdez was making his first start in 10 days, after he had to be scratched from his start against the Texas Rangers when he sustained a cut on his left index finger, which is his pitching hand, while shagging fly balls in the outfield.

“My finger really recovered quickly like I wanted it to, and it didn’t bother me at all,” said Valdez who also had six strikeouts on the night. “I was able to execute my pitches like I wanted too tonight. I felt really good.”

The only scare on the night for Valdez came in the bottom of seventh inning when he loaded the bases with two outs. Just when it looked like the Angels would at least get one run on the board, shortstop Carlos Correa robbed Angels second baseman David Fletcher of a base hit when he backhanded the ball and was able to recover in time to throw him out.

The excitement of the amazing play Correa made was just the boost the Astros needed at the plate. After six scoreless innings, Houston got four runs in the top of the eighth inning, led by a three-run home run by catcher Martiń Maldonado off Los Angeles reliever Andrew Wantz.

Photo Credit/Houston Astros

“I tell you one thing, that felt good,” Maldonado said with a smile on his face. “I feel like lately I have been seeing the ball better and swinging the bat better. The hitting coaches have been grinding with me all year.”

Another player that has been grinding at the plate since his return to the Astros is utility player Marwin Gonzalez. He only had two hits in his last six games played, but on Monday he matched that total of two hits that included a grand slam in the top of the ninth to give Houston consecutive innings scoring four runs.

“He has been swinging the bat the last couple of days really well, but he just wasn’t getting hits,” said manager Dusty Baker. “He got a big hit tonight to give us that third run and then he hit that grand slam. He has made some adjustments with [hitting coach] Alex Cintrón…And he has been working hard to get that stroke back, especially on that left side. He has been working hard.”

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