On Wednesday night in Houston, the Tampa Bay Rays were done in by the long ball, when second baseman Jose Altuve hit two of the team’s four solo home runs, leading the Astros to a 5-1 win.
Tampa Bay had the game’s first scoring chance in the top of the first inning when after two outs, they loaded the bases on a double by first baseman Jake Bauers then a walk to catcher Wilson Ramos, followed by third baseman Joey Wendle getting hit by a pitch. But Astros starter Charlie Morton got second baseman Willy Adames to hit a flair to leftfield on the 26th pitch of the inning & leftfielder Tony Kemp made a diving catch to end the threat.
The Rays put two more runners on in the third inning when Morton struggled to get the third out of the inning & walked Bauers & Ramos back to back. But Wendle stranded the runners when he struck out to end the inning.
Tampa Bay did eventually take a 1-0 lead in the fourth when with one out leftfielder Mallex Smith singled & with Smith running, designated hitter Carlos Gomez grounded out to third. And Smith didn’t stop at second, reached third safely & scored on an error by Astros Yuli Gurriel, when the first baseman threw wildly attempting to throw out Smith at third.
Meanwhile Tampa Bay starter Nathan Eovaldi struck out two Astros batters in the bottom of the first & threw 12 pitches to get a 1-2-3 second inning. And he needed just eight pitches in the third after a single to Astros catcher Brian McCann was wiped out by a double play. But after recording another struck out to start the fourth, Eovaldi hung a curveball to Altuve, who crushed it to deep leftfield tying the score at one.
The score remained tied at one until the bottom of the sixth inning when Eovaldi, facing the lineup for the third time in the game, allowed the Astros first three batters in their lineup to hit back to back to back home runs to take a 4-1 lead. First centerfielder George Springer crushed a pitch to deep left-center. Then two pitches later third baseman Alex Bregman hit an Eovaldi pitch into the seats in leftfield. And Altuve capped a feat that the Astros hadn’t done in over a decade, when he put a ball onto the train tracks in leftfield for the second time in the game. The home runs were the first time Houston batters had hit three home runs in a row since May 2008.
Tampa Bay is off on Thursday & returns home to start a three game series with the Yankees on Friday. The Rays will start righty Ryan Stanek (1-1 2.21) & the Yankees start lefty C.C. Sabathia (4-2 3.30). Coverage starts on 620 WDAE at 6pm with Steve Carney & The Inside Pitch with first pitch at 7:10pm.