HOUSTON – If there was one time the Astros were going to be unwavering fans of the automatic runner, it was in the 11th inning on Thursday when center fielder Myles Straw – one of baseball’s fastest players – was due to start the sleeve. on second base.
Having Straw in goal position with at least three chances to try and get him home was the perfect situation for the Astros. As it turned out, the Rangers provided a bit of help as well.
Straw ran home from third base on wild ground two out by Rangers reliever Brett Martin with the winning run to send the Astros to a spectacular 4-3 victory – their third in a row – at Minute Maid Park.
“It certainly would have been a little disappointing to lose this game, especially when we had so many chances, but we’ll take it whenever we can,” said Astros manager Dusty Baker.
The Astros were 2 in 18 with runners in goal position and stranded 14 on base, which made Straw’s insane scoreboard even more crucial. The Astros were able to get him home without the benefit of a hit, thanks to a well-executed bunt bag and good information from Straw.
“It’s a pain in the butt when a guy like that is over there because, you know, they obviously broke,” said Rangers manager Chris Woodward. “Now any kind of ball in the dirt or something, if it gets away from you a little bit, yeah, it’s going to score.” And that is obviously what happened. Once you get to third base you know his speed, that only takes into account a passed ball or a sacrifice situation, but I thought we had a good opportunity with it. [Chas] McCormick to hit him or get him out. ”
After the Astros failed to score in the 10th – an inning that ended with Straw hitting in a double play when Joey Gallo caught his ball on the right and threw pincher McCormick at the plate with a laser 97.3 mph – Straw started 11th with the Rangers holding him at second base. Jason Castro was on the plate.
“They wanted to keep me close just because they assumed we were streamers, which we did, to maybe give them a chance at third base in a tag team game,” Straw said. “It’s the smartest game out there. You want to keep the guys in second place really close, and Castro put in a really good decay and I was able to make it. They eliminated the putout early and put me on third base.
With a left-hander on the mound, the Rangers walked Jose Altuve and tried their luck with left-hander Michael Brantley, who knocked out Martin for the second out. After a visit to the mound, the Rangers marched Alex Bregman to load the bases for McCormick, who had raced for slugger Yordan Alvarez the previous round.
“We felt great when you could start with Straw,” Baker said. “I just hoped it didn’t come back to haunt us that I had to run for Alvarez when his place came.” We had to try our luck to try to win well before it got there. ”
Straw had known Martin from their time playing against each other in Double-A and knew he had a very good curve ball. This meant he knew there was a chance he could throw a pitch into the dirt, so Straw had to be alert.
“I’ve seen him bounce before and I’ve seen him bounce me before,” Straw said. “This is one of his very good grounds. I was ready for this pitch and he threw a good one. He just escaped.
As the ball slipped out, Straw made a good break over the line and slipped headfirst at home plate as receiver Jose Trevino’s desperate shot fell behind.
“It was kind of what we were hoping for,” Baker said. “You keep flirting with the bases loaded and there’s a lot that can happen for you – a slapshot, a crazy pitch, a baseline, a mistake.”
The only thing left was the celebration. Straw was too quick for the Rangers, but not for his teammates.
“I crept in and saw the guys come out [of the dugout]Straw said. “I looked for Yuli [Gurriel] because I know he usually takes me with the ice bucket or the bubble gum and sure enough he got me with the bubble gum. It was a good team victory.