Loading the bases is only half the battle, as they say. Cleveland did it twice tonight and came away with zero runs. The Astros did it once and hit a grand slam. That was pretty much the difference of the game and led to Cleveland’s 7-2 loss to Houston.
The Astros’ grand slam came from the bat of Jose Altuve, who received a showering of boos before, during, and after he gave the Astros their first lead of the game in the fifth inning. His grand salami put Houston up, 5-2, and it was all they needed to coast to a victory over Cleveland.
It’s a shame that J.C. Mejia’s final line tags him with six earned runs because he looked really good through most of his outing tonight. Really, his only mistake through the first four innings was a ball that Yordan Alvarez blistered to center field in the fourth.
Other than that, Mejia attacked the zone, kept the vaunted Astros offense off-balance, and for a while looked like he would have an easy night. He even sailed through the first in under 20 pitches, something he hasn’t done often this season.
The fifth inning does count, unfortunately, and once the Astros got a third look at the rookie pitcher, the hits started falling, culminating in Altuve’s grand slam. Some of the bleeding could have been stopped if any Cleveland outfielder knew how to call for a ball, but instead, Harold Ramirez and Cesar Hernandez watched a harmless pop fly drop mere feet in front of both of them as Myles Straw flew around to second base.
At least Harold made up for it on offense as the only Cleveland batter to drive in any runs with his bat. He brought home José Ramírez in the third with a scorched double to right field. It was a sinker down and dead center in the zone and hit 113.7 mph opposite field. A beautiful sight; much easier on the eyes than watching him field out there.
Everyone else? Well, they were there. Yu Chang had a pair of hits filling in for Eddie Rosario who left with abdominal tightness. He was the only batter with more than one hit, but they only struck out seven times as a team which is good I guess?
Ernie Clement went 0-for-3 with a walk and took a brutal hit to his WPA (win probability added) when he flew out with the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth. All of Progressive Field sounded like they thought it was gone, but it fell harmlessly into the fielder’s glove.
One potential concern is that an opposing pitcher finally starting pumping Bobby Bradley nothing but off-speed and breaking pitches and it worked. Bradley finished 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts. He swung at four of the six curveballs thrown his way and whiffed on every one of them. It’s his turn to adjust now.
The loss extends Cleveland’s losing streak to three and snaps Houston’s at five. Worst of all, Jose Altuve looked like he was having a good time out there, and that just stinks for everyone.