Giles' Meltdown Ends Historic Streak

The Moose takes a walk-off shower
(c) Associated Press
Skittish Astros fans who couldn't stop pinching themselves throughout a record May got a visit Tuesday night from the ghosts of playoffs past. You don't have to jog your memory too hard to remember a Kansas City Royals team with a shutdown bullpen and incredible comeback ability who pulled the rug out from under the Astros in Game 4 of the 2015 ALDS and crushed the hopes of a Cinderella season.

As Yogi Berra said, it was "deja vu all over again" as the Royals roared back from at 7-1 deficit to stun Houston, 9-7, with four runs in the eighth and a two-run walk-off homer in the ninth which ended the Astros' winning streak at eleven.

Remember when it was said after 2015 that what Houston lacked was a true closer in the bullpen? They traded four lads to Philadelphia for young Ken Giles. So, of course, it was Giles who gave up the three-run double to Whit Merrified in the eighth that tied the game and then the game-winning blow to Mike Moustakas which sent the woeful remnants of a crowd of 20,974 into delirium.

In the battle of AAA call-ups, the Astros clearly won. David "The Goliath" Paulino worked 5-2/3rd innings, allowing eight hits and three runs - just one out shy of the proverbial "quality start". The 6-7 righty struck out four before giving way to Chris Devenski, Reymin Guduan and James Hoyt leading up to the fateful ninth.

Meanwhile, Houston bashed Kansas City starter Jake Junis for seven runs in 3-2/3rd innings but couldn't score in the other 5-1/3rd frames against Kevin McCarthy, Travis Wood and Mike Minor. Carlos Beltran smacked a two-run homer while Josh Reddick and Yuli Gurriel rapped three hits each, part of a 14-hit assault.

Don't cry for us, Argentina, because the Astros are still far in front of the American League and, in particular, the Western Division. They could get started on their new winning streak as early as Wednesday night when Dallas Keuchel (9-0) toes the rubber against Jason Vargas (7-3) in a battle between pitchers likely to be present when the All-Star rosters are announced. The first pitch will be at 7:15 Central.

Off the field, Baseball America reports that the Astros have come to terms with 20-year-old Cuban righthander Elian Rodriguez which the Astros had yet to confirm as of Midnight. Part of the overspent 2016 international draft class, Rodriguez will reportedly sign (pending the passing of a physical) for $2 million which will cost the Astros $4 million with the luxury cap penalty.

- Bob Hulsey