Four-run sixth dooms Astros
(c) Associated Press
The Astros managed only four hits Saturday evening in Tampa, and although two of those hits left the yard, that wasn't nearly enough to beat the homestanding Rays. Tampa used a four-run sixth to seal the fate of the Astros, making University of Houston product Austin Pruitt a winner for the second time in his brief career.
The Astros built a 2-0 lead early thanks to solo home runs by Evan Gattis and Jose Altuve coupled with some extremely efficient pitching from Charlie Morton. Houston's starter retired ten of the first eleven batters he faced before running into control problems in the middle innings.
The Rays tied the score in the fifth when Evan Longoria doubled just inside the third-base bag to bring home Tim Beckham and Corey Dickerson.
Blake Snell issued a four-pitch walk to Altuve leading off the sixth and the Rays' starter was removed from the game. Altuve would use his speed to put the Astros back on top, stealing second -- and amazingly covering the final 180 feet around the bases on a groundout to the first-baseman off the bat of Gattis.
But the Astros' second lead of the night was short-lived. The Rays loaded the bases against Morton in the bottom of the inning and A.J. Hinch summoned Will Harris from the bullpen. Harris got Shane Peterson to hit a bouncer to the right side of the infield but was slow to cover first base. Peterson was credited with a single and a run batted in on what could otherwise be described as a mental error on Harris. The Rays continued to put the ball in play against a frustrated Harris, plating three more runs before James Hoyt came on to get the last two outs of the inning.
On this night, the Astros were unable to recreate the late-inning magic that we've grown accustomed to seeing this April. Pruitt and Alex Colome shut down the Houston offense the rest of the way to even the three-game series, setting up a rubber game for Sunday afternoon. Joe Musgrove will be on the mound for the Astros and Matt Andriese is scheduled to pitch for the Rays in a contest that will begin at 12:10 Houston time.
Injury note: Outfielder George Springer was forced to leave the game in the fifth inning due to hamstring tightness and is unlikely to play on Sunday. The Astros have an off-day on Monday before beginning a three-game series Tuesday night in Cleveland.
- Greg Thurston