ANAHEIM, Calif .– Houston manager Dusty Baker has said a great source of pride for her leading AL West team is the way they play in defense. He showed on Wednesday night that right fielder Chas McCormick made two huge plays in the Astros’ 9-5 win over the Los Angeles Angels in 12 innings.
McCormick threw a jump to prevent Shohei Ohtani from scoring the potentially winning run in the 10th inning. Two innings later, the Astros scored four runs, including a brace from Jose Altuve, to reduce their magic number to three to clinch their Fourth Division title in five seasons.
“He worked on his pitch and his grip. He played a great game in the outfield, ”said McCormick’s Baker. “Defense doesn’t win you a lot of games, but it can cause you to lose games. It was a big shot to win.
Ohtani, who was 0 for 2 and walked four times, made an ill-advised homecoming on David Fletcher’s baseline-laden roster to the shallow right. McCormick caught Ohtani by several steps with a throw from a jump – the two-way star didn’t slip, tried to dodge the tag and ran past the plate, and was easily hit by wide receiver Jason Castro .
“I was not surprised. I know he can run a little and that he would do anything to win. I’m glad I had a good shot on it, said McCormick, who blocked a single produced by Jack Mayfield with a dive caught in the third. “It wasn’t such a difficult play. Mayfield’s was one of my best games, but the biggest game was throwing Ohtani. “
Angels manager Joe Maddon had no problem sending Ohtani.
“I know it wasn’t that deep, but we’ve challenged it in the past,” Maddon said. “They played a great defense against us. We had the opportunity to end it and they exhausted us. “
Pinch runner Marwin Gonzalez gave the green light on Jake Meyers’ single against Sam Selman (0-1). Altuve then provided some assurance with a brace on the right field line to bring the score to 8-5. Altuve moved up to third on the home pitch and scored on the volley of Alex Bregman’s sacrifice.
Yordan Alvarez had three hits, including a two-run homer, and produced three runs for the Astros. Castro also hit a home run and Luis Garcia pitched six white innings.
Yimi Garcia (4-9), the seventh of eight pitchers from Houston, claimed the victory.
The Angels, who have lost six straight, trailed 3-0 before scoring five times. Mayfield provided the key shot with a two-out and three-run double on the right-field line to give Los Angeles a 5-3 lead.
The Astros responded quickly with a pair of eighth runs to tie the game. Alvarez netted an RBI brace and scored on Yuli Gurriel’s single through the hole on the shortstop.
The Astros took a 2-0 lead in the first when Alvarez directed a fastball from Janson Junk 456 feet from the berm at center-right. It’s Alvarez’s career longest home run and an opposing player’s second longest at the Big A this season – Yankees hitter Giancarlo Stanton ran 457 feet last month.
“It was a high rocket like what Willie Stargell and Big Willie McCovey used to hit. You knew he had hit it, you just didn’t know how far it was going to go, ”Baker said.
Junk had retired 10 times in a row before Castro started fourth with a homerun from the raised stands in right field to give the Astros a three-point advantage.
Luis Garcia, who makes a solid bid for AL Rookie of the Year honors, had his fourth outing where he made at least six innings and did not allow a run. The right-hander allowed just three hits and three walks with one strikeout.
Junk, who was acquired from the New York Yankees in the Andrew Heaney trade, played more than four innings in his third big league start. The right-hander allowed three runs on four hits with one walk and one strikeout. He’s allowed five home runs in his three starts.
Astros: OF Michael Brantley (right knee discomfort) is not ready to drop off the injured list after testing the knee before the game. … RHP Jake Odorizzi (right foot pain) has started a bullpen session and may return to rotation soon. … C Martin Maldonado has taken his leave.
Angels: LHP Reid Detmers (COVID roster) kicked off a mock three-innings game and could be activated during this weekend’s series against Seattle.
The Astros and Angels meet for the last time this season on Thursday. RHP Lance McCullers Jr. (12-4, 3.11 ERA) is tied for fourth in the AL in wins and 10th in strikeouts (176). He will face RHP Angels Alex Cobb (8-3, 3.59 ERA), who returned from the injured list and beat the Chicago White Sox in his last start on September 16.