EditorsNote: Adds quotes
Marwin Gonzalez produced a four-hit effort, Alex Bregman homered for a second consecutive game and Gerrit Cole pitched a masterful start as the Houston Astros beat the visiting Cleveland Indians 3-1 on Saturday in Game 2 of this American League Division Series.
Roberto Osuna posted a four-out save for the Astros, who will take a 2-0 series lead to Cleveland for Game 3 on Monday.
“We just need to find a way to win Monday,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “I’m guessing that Houston will enjoy their off-day more than we will. Other than that, show up on Monday and play for our baseball life. Nobody wants to go home. So try to keep this thing going.”
Gonzalez finished 4-for-4, with his two-run, opposite-field double off Indians left-hander Andrew Miller lifting the Astros to a 2-1 lead with one out in the sixth inning. The switch-hitting Gonzalez had recorded a pair of singles off Indians right-hander Carlos Carrasco (0-1) and delivered again when Miller entered and forced Gonzalez to bat from the right side of the plate.
“Today was an example of what he can do with the bat,” Bregman said of Gonzalez. “I was fired up when he was up with first and second [in the sixth]. I knew he was going to come through. I think everybody in that clubhouse knew he was going to come through.”
Jose Altuve, who reached on an infield single, and Bregman scored on the play to erase a one-run deficit. Bregman (1-for-3 with a walk) homered an inning later off Indians right-hander Trevor Bauer, drilling a 1-1 slider 396 feet to left-center field for a critical insurance run.
Cole (1-0) was exceptional. He allowed three hits and recorded 12 strikeouts over seven dominant innings. His lone blemish came with two outs and a two-strike count against Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor in the third, with Lindor blasting a slider into the right field seats.
Cole recovered by striking out the side in the fourth and fanning two batters apiece in the fifth and sixth.
“Yeah, he dominated the game,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “He’s as focused — I say this about Verlander, it’s like copy-paste. He was focused. He made a mistake, and he learned from it with the Lindor homer. He was emotional. I loved the emotion off the mound when he’s getting big strikeout after big strikeout.”
After the lengthy Houston rally in the bottom of the sixth, Cole returned to retire the side in order in the seventh inning, becoming just the second pitcher in postseason history to record at least 12 strikeouts without issuing a walk. New York Mets right-hander Tom Seaver did so against Cincinnati on Oct. 6, 1973, in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series.
Carrasco proved effective at inducing ground balls and keeping his teammates busy in support. He finished the season fourth in the American League in strikeouts with a career-high 231 yet produced only three while pitching 5 1/3 innings. He did record 10 ground-ball outs, including a crucial double play off the bat of Altuve to stifle an Astros threat in the third inning.
“Keep battling,” Indians third baseman Josh Donaldson said. “They played pretty much perfect baseball up to this point. We have had a couple mistakes the first couple games, and now, it’s our time to respond. We get to play at home now in front of our fans. Get something going early and often.”
—Field Level Media