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Astros 2, Tigers 1: Houston completes the sweep

The hometown club got a good look at the top of the mountain they’ll have to climb.

MLB: Houston Astros at Detroit Tigers Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Astros’ relentless combination of great pitching, strong game plans, good defense, and disciplined approach at the plate just overwhelmed the Tigers in this series. The hometown cats didn’t even play badly, but the Astros showed why they’re the best team in the American League once again, doing everything right in suffocating style to win 2-1 and sweep the series on Wednesday despite strong efforts from the Tigers’ pitching staff.

Joey Wentz acquitted himself reasonably well in this one, despite the fact that his command wasn’t as sharp as it was last time out. Wentz got ahead of Astros hitters throughout his outing, but had some trouble putting them away as the AL leaders’ strong two-strike approach wore the left-hander down with a lot of foul balls in two strike counts.

The Astros got two-out singles from Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker in the top of the first inning, but Wentz got Yuli Gurriel to ground out to avoid any damage. Still, the Astros burnt through 27 pitches in the inning, all but guaranteeing that Wentz wouldn’t be recording a quality start. The second inning was more efficient as he started finding the feel for his curveball and changeup, racking up a pair of strikeouts, and then had no issue in the third inning.

The problem was that Cristian Javier was absolutely carving through the Tigers’ lineup. Kerry Carpenter’s second inning single was the only hit they recorded until the sixth inning. Javier struck out eight, mixing his excellent pair of breaking balls to perfection, and didn’t walk a batter.

The Astros finally broke through in the fourth when Kyle Tucker launched a solo shot to lead off the inning. With one out, Trey Mancini doubled to center on a rocket that would have left many parks, and then advanced to third on a wild pitch which probably should have been ruled a passed ball, but was stranded as Wentz dug down deep to strike out Christian Vasquez and Chas McCormick.

Still the long early innings took their toll, and Wentz departed after walking the leadoff hitter David Hensley in the top of the fifth. Will Vest took over and promptly walked Jose Altuve. A sac bunt from Pena, and a sac fly from Bregman made it 2-0 Astros. Jason Foley tossed a 1-2-3 sixth inning after taking over from Vest.

Finally, with two outs in the bottom of the sixth, a Riley Greene single gave the Tigers their second hit on the day. Still, they couldn’t manage any more than that, and Javier thankfully departed after six shutout innings.

Joe Jiménez spun a strong seventh inning, striking out Altuve on a fastball down and away in the zone for a called strike three.

Bryan Abreu took over from Javier in the bottom of the seventh. He got the first out, but fell behind Javier Báez 2-0. A slider stayed up in the zone, and the Tigers shortstop, the DH in this one with Ryan Kreidler at shortstop, crushed it to left center for his 13th homer on the season. 2-1 Astros.

Jose Cisnero needed just six pitches to cruise through the top of the eighth, making it likely he’d get the ninth as well unless the Tigers seized the lead.

Jeimer Candelario led off the bottom of the eighth with a single against Ryne Stanek. Akil Baddoo came on to run for the third baseman, and the cat-and-mouse game at first base began. Kody Clemens struck out, while Ryan Kreidler got a fastball belt high and drove it out to McCormick in center field, but not deep enough for Baddoo to advance. That left it up to Riley Greene, and Stanek fell behind 3-0 and served a cookie of a fastball right down the middle. Greene absolutely barrelled it, launching it 107.5 mph with an ideal angle and an estimated distance of 424 feet. But, Comerica Park, so McCormick hauled it in at the wall, and that was pretty much ballgame.

Instead of Cisnero, Hinch turned to Gregory Soto in the top of the ninth. The lefty immediately allowed a single, but got the next two outs before falling apart to walk Chas McCormick and Hensley. Fortunately, Altuve ripped a groundball right to Kody Clemens at third for the final out, and so the Tigers still had a shot at a comeback.

Ryan Pressly struck out Willi Castro and got Harold to ground out. Báez kept the game alive with a single to left field, and that left it up to Carpenter for some heroics. He battled into a full count, but whiffed over a changeup to end the game.