Houston’s Robinson Chirinos wasn’t pleased when the Cleveland Indians intentionally walked Josh Reddick to bring him to the plate with two on and two out in the seventh inning Sunday night.
He took his emotions out on the ball, knocking the first pitch over the train tracks atop the wall in left field and out of the stadium to send the Astros a 4-1 victory.
“I feel like every hitter doesn’t like that,” he said. “As a hitter you don’t feel good when they intentionally walk the guy in front of you.”
Manager AJ Hinch raved about Chirinos’ work on offense and defense.
“It’s huge for him because as a catcher, you put so much time and energy getting your pitcher through the outing,” Hinch said. “All I talk about to our catchers is catch a winner and get a hit. That’s a huge day. When you get a hit like that, that’s probably the ultimate day for a catcher.”
The Astros were unable to do much against Carlos Carrasco (2-3) before former Indian Michael Brantley singled with one out in the seventh. Yuli Gurriel then hit a two-out, two-strike RBI double to end a streak of 17 scoreless innings for Carrasco.
“I tried to throw a better slider to Gurriel, but it was one of those that came late inside to the middle, and he just got it,” Carrasco said. “From that point, the game was crazy.”
The intentional walk to Reddick, who entered the game hitting .500 against Carrasco, set the table for Chirinos’ third homer.
“Carrasco threw the ball really well but that’s what this team is about. We never give up,” Chirinos said. “We put some quality at-bats together even when the guy was dominating the way he did the whole game. It was fun to see that.”
Houston won the final two games to earn a split of the four-game set with Cleveland in a rematch of last year’s AL Division Series. The Astros, who swept the Indians in October, also moved into first place in the AL West.
Wade Miley pitched 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball for Houston, extending his streak of consecutive starts with three or fewer earned runs to 22.
Framber Valdez (1-1) yielded one hit in two scoreless innings. Ryan Pressly worked the ninth for his second save.
Carlos Santana put Cleveland ahead in the fourth with his 200th career homer, but the Indians had trouble stringing hits together. They went 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position.
Cleveland had a chance in the fifth when Roberto Perez and Jake Bauers led off with consecutive singles, and a two-out hit for Jose Ramirez loaded the bases. Miley got Santana to ground out to end the inning.
Carrasco sailed through the first five innings, retiring 15 of his first 16 batters with seven strikeouts. Houston’s only baserunner through five came on a single by Carlos Correa in the second.
Carrasco had set down 11 straight when Chirinos walked with no outs in the sixth. He advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Tony Kemp and took third on a groundout by George Springer. Carrasco left Chirinos stranded when Jose Altuve flied out.
Carrasco was charged with four runs and six hits in 6 2/3 innings.
“He was so good,” manager Terry Francona said. “I mean, my goodness’ sake. That was his vintage velocity, breaking ball, changeup … I know his line is going to say he (gave up) four runs, but he was terrific.”
The home run by Chirinos was Houston’s 40th this month, which extends a franchise record for most home runs in April. The previous high was 38, which came in 2001. Altuve leads the team with nine, Springer has eight and Correa has six.
Indians: Following Monday’s off day, Trevor Bauer (3-1, 1.99 ERA) is scheduled to pitch in the opener of a two-game series at Miami.
Astros: RHP Justin Verlander (4-0, 2.61 ERA) will pitch Monday when Houston opens a six-game trip with the first of four games against the Twins. After that, the Astros travel to Monterrey, Mexico, for a two-game series with the Angels.
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