• Brian L. Barefield

Resiliency Pays Off As Astros Extend Their Winning Streak To Six Games

Photo Credit-Houston Astros

For seven innings on Saturday, the Houston Astros was sleepwalking in front of the 34,109 in attendance. Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez had control of the strike zone as he only allowed one hit and one earned run in 6 2/3 innings of work. His eight strikeouts came from his ability to mix, and match pitches all game long to keep the gigantic bats of the Astros at bay.

Yet, the one thing that this Astros team has been known for during their five straight years of playoff baseball is their resiliency. Houston used a two-run and three walk bottom of the eighth inning to take a 3-2 lead over the Tigers. That would be all the run support that closer Ryan Pressly would need as he used eight pitches (six strikes) to retire the three batters he faced as Houston won their sixth game in a row.

“This team is full of fight,” said Astros manager Dusty Baker.

Many accolades will be thrown towards the Tigers starting pitcher Rodriguez and his ability to stifle the Astros lineup. Still, opposing starter Framber Valdez was efficient, but oddly. He allowed a runner on base in all six innings he pitched and gave up nine hits before being relieved in the top of the seventh inning. What makes his outing even stranger was that he struck out seven batters and only allowed two runs.

“In the past I would have given up one or two hits and I would have lost my focus,” Valdez said to the media after the game. “Now giving up four or five hits and still being able to stay focused helps my game.”

Staying focused on the task at hand-applied to Valdez and the Astros hitters, who trailed 2-1 heading into the bottom of the eighth inning with that one run coming from a Jose Altuve home run to break up a no-hitter by Rodriguez.

Ironically, Altuve would begin Houston’s comeback with a single up the middle with one out. Michael Brantley stepped to the plate and showed the fans why he is nicknamed “Professional Hitter” as he sent the ball scorching down the first baseline for an RBI double to tie the game at two apiece. After Alex Bregman grounded out and Yordan Alvarez received an intentional walk, the Tigers were put in a position that would be dangerous for any pitcher.

Photo Credit-Houston Astros

Although reigning A.L. Batting Champion Yuli Gurriel is struggling at the plate, he is only one swing away from breaking out of his slump, and Kyle Tucker can put opposing teams in an actual deficit if he connects with the right pitch.

Detroit reliever Michael Fulmer walked both to bring home the winning run.

“We don’t ever just shut it down,” said Michael Brantley when asked about his team’s resiliency. “I have been here for a few years now and the quality at-bats that this lineup throws out daily is special.”

Houston will play their final home game Sunday before heading out on a nine-game road trip.

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