Baseball should change its running rules to count Yordan Alvarez as a runner in running position whenever he comes up to bat. With the score tied 6-6 in the bottom of the ninth, with no one on base and two out, every Astros fan knew the winning run was already on base when Yordan came to bat.
He did not disappoint. On a 3-1 count, he got the Royals closer to Scott Barlow 444 feet from right center field to finish the Astros’ 7-6 comeback against the Kansas City Royals today on Independence Day.
He capped a comeback after a 5-0 deficit created by Astros starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi, who went just four innings pitched in his first start since IL, allowing five runs.
But despite the hole dug by Odorizzi, the Astros managed to get out of the deficit before exploding towards the final victory.
The Astros began to chip away at Royals starter Jonathon Heasley in the fourth inning when Kyle Tucker robbed Jeremy Pena. And in the fifth, Jose Altuve added another run by hitting Mauricio Dubon on a field single.
The Astros broke out in the eighth inning with plenty of help from the Royals’ bullpen. Jeremy Pena, Alex Bregman and Yordan Alvarez opened the inning with back-to-back walks. Kyle Tucker then hit a two-run single to cross Amir Garrett, followed by a Yuli Gurriel RBI single to tie the score at 6-6.
Ryne Stanek held the Royals in the ninth, setting the stage for the monster Alvarez outburst to end the game.
Meanwhile, the enigma of Jake Odorizzi deepens.
After making the All-Star team in 2019 with the Minnesota Twins, racking up 15 wins, a 3.51 ERA and more than 10 Ks in nine innings, Odorizzi’s performance with the Astros plummeted precipitously in 2021.
He won just six games, rarely going over five innings in any game, and had just 104 innings for the season. His ERA rose to 4.21 and his K/9 rate dropped to 7.82.
After Odorizzi’s early debut in 2022, the Astros fan base and probably the coaching staff were ready for the Odorizzi DFAs. After three starts, Odorizzi’s ERA was 9.00, and in nine innings he allowed 12 hits, seven walks, with just five strikeouts. On April 20 against the Angels, he was eliminated from the game after getting just two outs.
Jake Odorizzi started throwing like an ace. In his next four games, his ERA was .79, allowing just nine hits and five walks in 22.2 innings while striking out 17.
But in the sixth round of his May 16 start in Boston, Odorizzi simply collapsed with a mysterious leg injury. Today was his much anticipated return to the mound. Would he be reincarnated as an evil Odorizzi, or would his second coming be immaculate?
The first returns are not encouraging. Odorizzi put the Astros in a deep hole. The weak-hitting Royals practiced batting on Odorizzi, getting nine hits and one walk while scoring two runs in each of the first two innings and another run in the third inning on a home run by MJ Melendez. (Melendez would hit another solo shot in Phill Maton’s eighth)[holeTheweak-hittingRoyalstookbattingpracticeonOdorizzigettingninehitsandawalkwhilescoringtworunsineachofthefirsttwoinningsandanotherruninthethirdinningonahomerbyMJMelendez(MelendezwouldhitanothersoloshotintheeighthoffPhillMaton)[holeTheweak-hittingRoyalstookbattingpracticeonOdorizzigettingninehitsandawalkwhilescoringtworunsineachofthefirsttwoinningsandanotherruninthethirdinningonahomerbyMJMelendez(MelendezwouldhitanothersoloshotintheeighthoffPhillMaton)
And it’s not like Odorizzi faces an attacking juggernaut. His replacement, rookie Seth Martinez, stopped the Royals for three innings, allowing just one hit with three strikeouts.
Of course, it’s just one game, and Odorizzi’s first comeback from injury. And for today, who cares? The Astros continue to win, sometimes miraculously, this time for their seventh straight win and twelfth in their last fourteen games.
At the start of today’s game, the Astros were 13.5 games ahead of second-place Seattle in the AL West and 7.5 games ahead of Boston for the all-important second place overall in the AL West. AL.
Tomorrow should be fun. Luis Garcia takes on Eephus specialist and former Astros Zack Greinke at 7:10 CT at Minute Maid.
Box Score and Videos HERE.