Houston built a 5-0 lead in Detroit Tuesday and gave back all but one run. The bullpen made that hold up for a 5-4 victory, staying three games ahead of Oakland in the A.L. West chase. Houston now has 91 wins with 17 games left in their quest for the best record in franchise history. They would need to go 12-5 to set a new record, breaking the 102 victories set by the 1998 squad.
Altuve: Positive note.
(c) Associated Press
Jose Altuve began the game with a first-pitch leadoff homer against Jordan Zimmermann. Tony Kemp bashed a two-run shot to right in the second and Tyler White cracked a two-run bomb in the fourth that accounted for all of Houston's scoring.
Framber Valdez made it through the first three innings but struggled in the fourth. Niko Goodrum doubled to right and a ground out moved him up to third with two away. Ronny Rodriguez walked then Dawel Lugo singled to left for the first Tiger score.
JaCoby Jones, not the former NFL star, drilled a line drive homer against the outer left field wall for three runs to close the gap to 5-4.
After four innings and 80 pitches, Valdez was done so Will Harris took over in the fifth. Joe Smith, Hector Rondon, Collin McHugh and Roberto Osuna finished it out with nine combined strikeouts in five shutout innings. Harris was credited with the win and Osuna claimed his 17th save.
The Astros go for the sweep on Wednesday in a 12:10 pm Central lunch special game. Gerrit Cole (13-5) will get the call against lefthander Daniel Norris (0-3).
Off the field, pitcher Lance McCullers tossed a 40-pitch bullpen session before the coaches and trainers, reporting he felt fine afterwards. McCullers has an outside chance to join the postseason roster. Elsewhere, reliever Brad Peacock was flown back to Houston after being diagnosed with hand, foot and mouth disease, a viral infection that creates lesions and blisters on the hand and feet plus around the mouth. Two other big league pitcher have caught the ailment - former Astro J.A. Happ and Noah Syndergaard.
Peacock burst onto the scene in 2017 with a 13-2 campaign after making the last spot on the roster. Pushed back to the bullpen this year, Peacock was 2-4 with a 2.98 ERA and three saves. It may happen that Peacock's illness will open up a bullpen role for McCullers who had been all but ruled out of the postseason a few weeks back.
- Bob Hulsey