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Astros 12, Tigers 3: A Houston Hit Parade

José Ureña was inconsistent and Houston’s hot hitters made him, and the Tigers, pay dearly.

MLB: Houston Astros at Detroit Tigers Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The opener of a tough 4-game set against the Houston Astros saw the Detroit Tigers lose 12-3, with the Astros racking up 18 hits overall. You’re not going to win too many games when you give up that many hits, folks.

José Ureña, who was hoping to give the Tigers some quality innings to start the series and save the bullpen, hadn’t pitched into the sixth since May. It seems like a long time ago that he had that four-game stretch in which he pitched seven innings per start, especially on a night like tonight.

Luis García, who’s been having a very solid season so far in Houston, got the nod for the Astros. Coming into tonight he was 5-4 on the season, with a 2.82 ERA in 70 13 innings, with 22 walks against 80 strikeouts. He may or may not have a mullet, I don’t know. But I can say that photos of him definitely have a “party in the back” vibe.

Akil Baddoo extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a three hit game, including a pair of doubles. I didn’t even know he had one going, but hey, with this guy, nothing surprises me anymore.

A quick Baddoo recap is in order:

  • 2018 season, 19 years old: A level, hit .243 (.770 OPS) in 113 games
  • 2019 season, 20 years old: High-A level, hit .214 (.683 OPS) in 29 games, got hurt
  • 2020 season, 21 years old: did not play (injured + no minor leagues); released by Twins
  • 2021 season, 22 years old: Major Leagues, hitting .272 (.857 OPS) in 56 games so far

Try this on for size:

That’s pretty special, folks. Enjoy it. The Rookie of the Year campaign will ramp up if he can carry this beyond the All-Star break.

Ureña first got into trouble in the second: two Astros walked and Willi Castro booted a two-out grounder by Robel Garcia to load the bases with two out. Martin Maldonado then smacked a changeup for a 2-run single, altering the trajectory of this game pretty significantly.

A bunch of singles and a groundout in the third resulted in more runs for the Astros. Eventually they loaded the bases, Ureña hit Abraham Toro, and then Garcia hit a bizarre liner that went in and out of Jonathan Schoop’s glove, bounced upwards somewhat... and Willi Castro caught it in the air. Y’know, the ol’ 3-4 lineout, oldest play in the book.

Harold Castro walked to lead off the bottom of the third. With two outs, Baddoo doubled to right on the first pitch, and Castro scored all the way from first to narrow the Houston lead to 4-1.

In the fourth Myles Straw singled and Yuli Gurriel doubled him in, expanding the lead back to four runs and putting Ureña on the ropes. A Correa single scoring Gurriel was the knockout punch, and Tyler Alexander took over. Oh, Willi Castro had another error in there somewhere, too.

The Tigers put a threat together in the bottom of the fourth, with singles by Candelario and Nomar Mazara with one out. Daz Cameron walked, loading the bases for Harold Castro, who fouled off a whole whack of pitches. Mazara saw a pitch bounce, partially took off for third, and got thrown out before he could get back to second. On the next pitch, Castro grounded out, and that was that.

A two-out, bases-loaded bloop into right by Correa in the fifth, who was serenaded all night by lusty boos from the Tiger faithful in the stands, made it 8-1.

That didn’t stop Baddoo from collecting another double with two outs in the fifth, though; at that point in the fifth inning, his batting average was .286 and his OPS was .891, which is remarkable for a rookie, and yes, I’m big into Baddoo, alright? On the next pitch, Schoop hit what should’ve been a two-run home run to left, but it was brought back for an out by elder Tiger Killer statesman Michael Brantley. Gotta tip your cap.

Buck Farmer took over in the sixth, and for the fifth consecutive inning, the Astros had loaded the bases... but, due to a 1-6-3 inning-ending double play, the Astros somehow didn’t score. Also of note: Houston leadoff batter Myles Straw, whose name is funny to me for some reason I can’t figure out, had his fifth at-bat of the game in the sixth inning. I guess that’ll happen when your team has 14 hits, three walks, two hit-by-pitches and two reached-on-errors in six innings. Straw himself ended up with four hits on the night in six at-bats.

Robbie Grossman led off the sixth with a double, and with two outs Cameron followed with a hustling double of his own, scoring Grossman.

(For fans of the metric system, 29.9 ft/s = 32.8 km/h = 9.1 m/s.) A wild pitch allowed Cameron to take third, but Harold Castro then struck out. Again.

Joe Jiménez took over in the seventh; a one-out Yordan Alvarez single was erased on a double play. Don’t look now, but Jiménez has been pretty respectable lately: his first outing after coming back from a demotion to Toledo was a clunker, but coming into tonight, in 15 appearances since May 16: 12 13 innings, 9 hits, 8 walks, 13 strikeouts, only one home run surrendered, and a .690 OPS against.

Bryan Garcia’s good stuff was on display tonight in the eighth inning, with a nasty three-pitch strikeout of Toro with a nasty 97 mph sinking fastball at the bottom edge of the strike zone. That momentum didn’t carry on into the ninth, though: a Straw single, a Brantley double and a Yuli Gurriel walk loaded the bases yet again. Yordan Alvarez added insult to injury with a towering grand slam.

AJ Hinch waved the white flag as Harold Castro moved to the mound in an attempt to finish off the game. Castro’s ERA remained spotless after the outing, as was his record for Spider Tack.

The bottom of the ninth saw singles by Cameron, Haase and Willi Castro off Ralph Garza, Jr., rounding out the scoring.

The second game of the four-game series goes tomorrow night in Detroit, with Wily Peralta and Framber Valdez the scheduled starters.

Also: this nine-inning game lasted almost four hours, which is entirely too long.

The Future is Dingler

Notes and Such

  • Coming into tonight, the Astros had hit 38 home runs in their previous 18 games. In that time, they’d averaged about 7.5 runs per game. Talk about a hot-hitting team.
  • Eric Haase, before tonight’s game, was 5 for his previous 39 at-bats. Gotta make those adjustments, bud.
  • The radio guys pointed out that the Tigers and Twins are going to play a four-game series just before the All-Star Break. Then, after the break... yup, four more against the Twins.
  • On this date in 1883, physicist Victor Hess was born in Austria. He won a Nobel Prize in Physics for his discovery of cosmic rays, which are high-speed particles that zing-around the universe and occasionally slam into Earth’s atmosphere, which blocks most of ‘em. Otherwise, life on Earth would be a lot more interesting. And deadly.