• Brian L. Barefield

Wasted Opportunity Bielak’s Major League starting debut lost after bullpen blows lead.

Brandon Bielak Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas

PHOENIX, AZ- Astros rookie Brandon Bielak’s Major League career has truly had some highs and some lows. On last week the 24-year old righthanded pitcher earned his first Major League win against the Seattle Mariners and picked up another victory against the Los Angeles Angels. Both came in relief outings, but those performances were good enough to gain the confidence of manager Dusty Baker and he earned a spot in the starting rotation.

Bielak (2-0) pitched five scoreless innings in his first start of his career and only allowed two hits before exiting the game with a two-run lead. Yet it was the bullpen that has been decimated with injures early in the season that surrendered five runs late in the game that gave the Arizona Diamondbacks (5-8) a one-run victory over the Houston Astros (6-6). That 5-4 loss was very painful for Dusty Baker after watching Bielak have such a great outing.

“Boy. That was a tough one to lose,” Baker said after the game. “Young Bielak threw the ball great. He is not easily rattled and throws strikes. He commands the strike zone and knows how to calm himself down”

Houston got on the board first in the fourth inning when Yuli Gurriel drove in Jose Altuve from third base after he had singled earlier in the inning. Gurriel extended his hit streak to seven games and has now hit safely in 9 out of the last 12 games.

Altuve would put the Astros up by two runs in the top of the sixth inning after he hit a solo homerun off of Diamondbacks starter Zac Gallen. The former A.L. MVP broke out of a mini slump he was going through as he had as many hits (3) in this game as he had in the previous seven. Altuve came into the game 3-for-34 and was only batting .146 on the season.

“Before today’s game I felt sometimes a little nervous or a little too late,” Altuve said. “Hopefully after today’s game I can keep it going and help my team.”

Astros relievers Cy Sneed and Blake Taylor surrendered Houston’s lead in the bottom of the inning giving up three runs, but Alex Bregman put the Astros back on top with a two-run homer in the top of the eighth inning. 2019 All-Star reliever Ryan Pressly came into the bottom of the ninth with that lead and was not able to get an out as he gave up a walk and three straight hits to lose the game.

Pressly has been dealing with some elbow soreness this year that caused him to miss some games but would not let his lack of work be an excuse on why he blew the save opportunity.

“I am not going to use (lack of work) as an excuse,” Pressly said after the game.

Houston will end their road trip in Oakland as they play a three-game series against the A’s starting on Friday.

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