HOUSTON, TEXAS – SEPTEMBER 11: Alex Bregman #2 of the Houston Astros reacts in the dugout after hitting a grand slam in the third inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Minute Maid Park on September 11, 2022 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Luis Garcia gave up three early runs, but a clutch grand slam by Alex Bregman put the Astros ahead, and they never looked back, scoring twelve unanswered runs on their way to a 12-4 win over the Angels.
With the win in this last meetup of these teams this year, the Astros not only take this three-game series but finish 13-6 in the season series in their continued dominance of the AL West.
Angels tag Garcia early, Bregman’s slam gets him off the hook
The Angels pounced on Luis Garcia immediately in the top of the first, getting a leadoff triple that set up a two-run homer for MVP-hopeful Shohei Ohtani, his 34th this year. After a single to make it three-straight hits, Garcia recovered to get the next three batters, but not before using up 32 pitches in the labored inning.
Garcia allowed a solo homer with two outs in the second, extending Los Angeles’ lead to 3-0, but the Astros were quick to bail him out. Mauricio Dubón got the Astros on the board, sneaking a home run into the Crawford Boxes to lead off the bottom of the third. That led to an early end of the day for Angels starter Tucker Davidson, who, after the homer allowed, went on to load the bases with no outs on two singles and a hit-by-pitch.
That brought Alex Bregman to the plate, and he took advantage of the Angels’ early dip into their bullpen by launching a go-ahead grand slam, making it a five-run inning and pushing Houston ahead 5-3. Garcia held the two-run lead and made it through five innings, his final line: 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 2 HR, 88 P.
Houston takes the series
First out of Houston’s bullpen was Bryan Abreu, who continued his impressive stretch with a scoreless top of the sixth, erasing a single and a walk. After leading off the bottom half of the inning with a single, Jose Altuve stole second and then moved to third after two walks before extending Houston’s lead to 9-3 by scoring on a wild pitch.
Ryne Stanek took over in the top of the seventh, erasing a leadoff walk to Ohtani with a strikeout and double play to end the frame. Will Smith was next, tossing a 1-2-3 top of the eighth before Yordan Alvarez blasted his 32nd home run of the year, and Kyle Tucker followed two batters later with a two-run shot, adding three more runs to the lead at 12-3.
Hector Neris came in to wrap things up in the top of the ninth, allowing an RBI-double to make it 12-4 before finishing off the win, improving the Astros to 90-50 on the year.
News and notes
Ace on the mend: Per Brian McTaggart and MLB.com, Justin Verlander threw a bullpen session before Sunday’s game and estimated he should be ready to return in the upcoming series with the Oakland A’s on September 15th-18th.
Quick trip: The Astros will travel to Detroit for a short three-game road trip starting Monday. Framber Valdez (14-5, 2.64 ERA) will be on the mound in the opener, looking for his 24th consecutive quality start.
Changes in store: In case you missed it, on Friday, the MLB competition committee voted to implement changes that will go into effect in 2023, including a pitch clock, larger bases, and the controversial banning of the shift.