• Brian L. Barefield

Houston Fans Witness A Non-Traditional Walk Off As The Astros Defeat The Diamondbacks

Photo Credit/Houston Astros

I have been covering the Houston Astros since the 2018 season and I have been in attendance for some of the greatest walk-off game winners by the team.

In Game 5 of the 2020 American League Championship Series, Houston was down in the series 3-1 and was tied with Tampa Bay Rays at 3 in the bottom of the ninth inning. With one out, Astros shortstop Carlos Correa stepped to the plate and hit a walk-off home run in Petco Park to send Houston to Game Six. I was sitting at the media table in right field and witnessed the entire at-bat.

I will do one even better.

Jose Altuve’s ALCS Game 6 walk-off home run in Minute Maid Park off New York Yankees reliever Aroldis Chapman to send the Astros to the 2019 World Series, I was there.

One thing I have never witnessed until Friday night in the Astros 4-3 extra innings victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks was a bases-loaded walk-off hit by pitch.

No, you did not misread that last sentence. Yes, the Astros won a game with a walk-off hit by pitch. The last time Houston got a victory in that fashion was on Aug. 8, 1998. It was also the third time in franchise history that it has happened.

Astros outfielder Chas McCormick, who was inserted into the game in the bottom of the ninth inning to pinch run, came to the plate to face Diamondbacks reliever Tyler Clippard in the 10th inning with the bases loaded and was hit in the back on an 0-2 count.

“Pretty crazy,” said McCormick about the way the game ended. “Coming off the bench just being ready for whatever, and I’m just happy we won honestly. That was a great W.”

Photo Credit/Houston Astros

Although Houston won the game in strange fashion, it was even more puzzling that one of the best offensive teams in the league seemed to struggle for most of the game at the plate.

For five innings on Friday, the Astros were shut down by former 2014 World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner, who took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and retired the 15 of the 16 batters he faced only allowing one base runner to reach base due to an error.

Bumgarner, who threw an unofficial no-hitter earlier in the season against the Atlanta Braves that did not count because the game was only seven innings due to the double header rules set by MLB this season, looked like he was on his way to getting his first of the 2021 season.

Jose Altuve prevented the no-hitter from happening when he hit a two-run home run on an 0-2 count with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning for Houston’s first hit of the game and their first lead of the game at 2-1.

“Madison was throwing the ball really good today,” said Altuve who hit his 28th home run of the season. “We were all happy when he was out of the game. We just continued to keep playing until we put some at bats together and won the game. That was a big inning for us.”

Arizona would tie the game in the top of the eighth inning and would take the lead in the 10th inning after reliever Ryne Stanek gave up an RBI single to David Peralta. Houston would respond with an RBI single from Jake Meyers to bring Martiń Maldonado home and tie the game at 3.

Yordan Alvarez, who was intentionally walked earlier in the inning, advanced to second base on the hit by Meyers and pinch hitter Aledmys Diaz drew a walk to load the bases for McCormick who was drilled in the back by the 0-2 splitter from Tyler Clippard to win the game.

Astros manager Dusty Baker summed up the game with his first answer of his postgame press conference.

“Boy, that was a strange game,” Baker said. “It was a weird game.”

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