Worth the wait! Gonzalez's walk-off HR lifts Astros in 16th
By Brian McTaggart and Chris Abshire
HOUSTON -- Marwin Gonzalez lined the first pitch he saw from Indians pitcher Cody Anderson into the right-field seats for a two-out walk-off home run in the 16th inning that sent the Astros to a 5-3 marathon win Wednesday afternoon at Minute Maid Park.
The third-longest game in the history of Minute Maid Park saw the teams combine to use 18 pitchers who threw 489 pitches. Anderson, a starter, was pressed into duty after the Indians used their entire relief corps. Michael Feliz threw three scoreless innings for his first big league win for Houston.
The Astros set season-highs for walks (12) and runners left on base (17), but came through in the clutch hit for their first walk-off win to cap a 6-4 homestand.
"It''s a shame for either team to lose that type of game," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "It would have been more of a shame had we lost it, but what a game. The entire back half of that game I'm thinking back to the first inning bases loaded, the second inning bases loaded, the fourth inning bases loaded. The first three innings were incredible amount of base runners we didn't take advantage of it, and when you're in this tight game it's impossible not to think about it."
The Indians forced extra innings by tying the game in the ninth inning. Mike Napoli doubled with one out and scored the tying run on a Carlos Santana triple. Astros closer Luke Gregerson had converted his previous 16 save chances since Aug. 12 of last year.
Astros shortstop Carlos Correa made an extraordinary short-hop play to prevent the go-ahead run from scoring in the top of the ninth inning on a ball hit by Marlon Byrd while drawn in with the game knotted at 3, and with Santana on third.
The Astros squandered early scoring chances before coming through with a pair of clutch hits to take the lead. Correa tied the game with an RBI single in the sixth, and Preston Tucker's two-out RBI single in the seventh put them ahead, 3-2.
Anderson, typically a starter, took the loss and fell to 0-3 on the season. Cleveland wrapped up a brief road trip losing two of three in Houston and fell to 16-15. The Indians have yet to be more than two games above .500 this season.
"You get into an extra-inning game on the road, you're a pitch away from going home and that hurts," said Cleveland manager Terry Francona. "But I'm really pleased with the way [Anderson] attacked with his pitches."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Clutch hits come late: The Astros were 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position before Correa shot a two-out single up the middle in the sixth to score Jose Altuve from second to tie the game. The Astros squandered scoring chances early against Indians starter Danny Salazar, stranding eight batters in the first three innings, including the bases loaded in the first and second innings. They stranded a season-high 17 runners and didn't have a hit between the seventh and 16th innings.
"We got through their whole bullpen to where they had to bring a starter ... In that regard, I felt like our guys hung in there." More >
Waiting them out: For much of the first nine innings, the Indians used a classic bend-don't-break style on the mound. You don't reach that 17 left-on-base mark without a whole lot of walks -- 12 in total. But from the seventh inning on, Cleveland nearly tossed the equivalent of a combined full-game no-hitter until Correa's 16th-inning leadoff single. Using all eight relievers and starter-turned-last resort Anderson, they cobbled together 8 2/3 innings of ultimately fruitless clean work. Anderson was valiant in an unusual role, yet Cleveland has still lost all six games in which he's pitched.
"I'm just out there competing," Anderson said. "It's a different situation, but it's still the same thing. I just have to get outs. Unfortunately today, they wanted me to win and I didn't come through." More >
Fister delivers again: Astros starter Doug Fister gave the Astros his fifth consecutive quality start by holding the Indians to two runs and six hits while issuing no walks in a season-high seven innings. He recorded 14 ground ball outs and needed only 89 pitches. In 20 innings in three May starts, he's allowed six earned runs and 16 hits.
"It's where I want to be right now, but obviously still some things I want to clean up," Fister said.
Salazar no star: The box score might end up looking at least acceptable for Salazar, but it was a dramatic step down in form after a consistent start to 2016. The right-hander walked five batters in the first three innings. He put as many men on base Wednesday as he had in his previous 14 2/3 innings of two-run ball over two starts. Though Houston only tagged him for the lone run, he upped his WHIP by 0.15 points in an inefficient 106-pitch effort.
"I was overheated early," Salazar said. "I had a lot of adrenaline and was excited to go out there and try to get outs. I had all of those walks and then I got out of trouble, but I tried to settle down a little bit… I was pulling to my left side when I was throwing the ball, instead of going down. It was a battle and I had to deal with it."
"It's hard when you're the catcher and you're catching 16 innings. I'm sure he's exhausted. He hit some balls on the nose early last night -- well, it was today, but it seems like last night." -- Francona, on Yan Gomes' long 0-for-7 day
"What a great atmosphere for us. You go from having minimal energy to an adrenaline rush that can only come at home when you get a walk-off against a really good team, a really good pitcher, a really good pitching staff and we walk out of here feeling a little bit better about ourselves," -- Hinch, on his team's 16-inning win
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Springer's home run in the fourth inning was the 1,500th hit by the Astros in the regular season and post-season at Minute Maid Park.He also hit the 1,400th by the Astros at Minute Maid Park last year. More >
Cleveland manager Terry Francona successfully challenged a play at first base in the seventh inning. With two outs and a man on, Jose Altuve knocked a grounder up the middle and was ruled safe at first on a bang-bang play, though he looked out in real time. Replay overturned the safe call in just 54 seconds.
Francona was also successful on another challenge in the top of the 16th inning, when Marlon Byrd was ruled out at first for the second out of a would-be 3-6-3 double play. Replay reviews clearly showed Byrd beating the throw, and the call was reversed.
WHAT'S NEXT Indians: Cleveland gets a day off before a tough two-week stretch of 14 games in 13 days, starting with the Twins at home on Friday at 7:10 p.m. ET. Josh Tomlin (5-0, 3.72 ERA) starts for the Indians. Minnesota did rough him up the last time the two teams met, as Tomlin allowed five runs (four earned) in 5 1/3 innings on April 27.
Astros: Dallas Keuchel (2-4, 4.70 ERA) takes the mound in the series opener against the Red Sox at 6:10 p.m. CT Thursday at Fenway Park. Keuchel is looking for his first win since April 15, when he beat the Tigers with eight scoreless innings. In four starts since, he's 0-3 with a 6.94 ERA, allowing 34 hits in 23 1/3 innings.