Outfielder steals second, scores on passed ball after entering as a pinch-runner
By Chandler Rome
HOUSTON -- The plan was the same as Saturday: Astros outfielder Carlos Gomez would finally make his return to game action as a pinch-runner if Chris Carter reached base against a newly inserted right-handed reliever.
And, like Saturday, it was foiled when Carter deposited a solo shot, which gave the Astros an insurance run during Sunday's 4-2 win against the Rangers. Houston pulled to within 2 1/2 games of first in the American League West with the victory.
Unlike Saturday, though, Gomez would get another chance.
Gomez, out of the Astros' starting lineup for a 14th straight game, entered as a pinch-runner, stole second base and scored on a passed ball to give Houston a 4-2 lead after Evan Gattis singled with one out in the eighth inning.
"He was going to electrify the crowd somehow," said Astros manager A.J. Hinch. "He was going to get going. He was like a caged animal the last couple days just wanting to get in the game. ... When he gets in the game there's just a buzz and an energy that is hard to describe. When he stole second base and he's bouncing around, you see that life in his body. It was a sight to see."
Told he would possibly pinch-run earlier in the game, Gomez said he timed reliever Sam Dyson's deliberate delivery from the bench during Gattis' at-bat and knew if he had the chance he could swipe second with ease.
The sprint home was vintage Gomez, reading the action of the ball in the dirt as Bobby Wilson, inserted that inning behind the plate, struggled to find it.
"It's frustrating, and the last two weeks I've been mad, frustrated to see my team losing and know I can do nothing about it," Gomez said. "It's a simple injury, but tough at the same time. I've been working, come here and do my training early to help to heal it."
Gomez is set to take early batting practice on the field when the Astros arrive in Seattle on Monday, and the club will determine whether or not he can test his strained intercostal in game action during the team's crucial six-game road trip.
He acknowledged that if he does return, though, it won't be at 100 percent -- especially given the fierce nature of his swings.
"Tomorrow's the first time I'm going to hit BP in the field, and if everything goes well I'll be playing," Gomez said. "I'm not going to be 100 percent. I think in two or three weeks I'll be 100 percent, but I think at like 70 percent I can help and play to the level I can help to win the games."
No matter the results of batting practice Monday, Hinch has a backup plan in mind.
"Tomorrow he's going to run for Carter and Carter is going to homer," Hinch said.
Chandler Rome is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.