There's a reason opposing managers keep trotting out lefthanded pitchers to face the Astros. If you can't stop them with a genuine ace like Zack Greinke, stopping them with a southpaw is the next best thing. On Thursday, Arizona salvaged a split of their four-game "rivalry series" with Houston as lefty Patrick Corbin came within one out of a four-hit complete-game shutout. The Diamondbacks left Houston with a 4-0 whitewash.
Descalso: Circling the bases
(c) Associated Press
There just isn't rational explanations for a team scoring nine runs twice in a four-game series and zero runs in the other two games. It's one of those curiosities whose only retort is "that's baseball".
Jake Marisnick, who has a history of hitting lefties well, produced two singles and George Springer had a base hit. Otherwise a two-out double by Yuri Gurriel in the ninth was the only Houston hit of the game. It was enough, though, for Arizona skipper Torey Lovullo to yank Corbin from the chance to finish his masterpiece.
Corbin had 105 pitches to that point and Archie Bradley entered to strike out Marwin Gonzalez for the final out which left Houston manager A.J. Hinch in a snit about the balls and strikes coming from plate umpire Paul Nauert.
As it was, one crazy hit was all the Snakes needed to win that afternoon. In the fourth inning, Daniel Descalso drilled a long drive to center off Mike Fiers over Marisnick's head back where there used to be a hill and the ball took a strange carom off the fence away from the outfielder and rolled along the warning track. By the time Marisnick ran it down and tried to throw, Descalso was bolting toward the plate with an inside-the-park homer.
That made the score 2-0 and Jake Lamb would up the lead in the sixth with a more conventional solo home run off Fiers. An insurance run in the eighth was scored on catcher Max Stassi's error after a strike out and a wild pitch from Frances Martes.
Fortunately for the Astros, an old elixir awaits them called the Oakland Athletics. The A's come to town for a weekend series and the Astros no longer have to fear Sonny Gray whom was traded to the Yankees at the deadline. Houston has won 10-of-12 so far against the green-and-gold this season.
Speaking of 10-2, Dallas Keuchel will pitch the opener of that series Friday night in a 7:10 Central start. His opponent is scheduled to be fellow lefty Sean Manaea (8-7) who has one of the two Oakland wins.
Yep - another lefthander. That's baseball for the Astros.
- Bob Hulsey