If you like good pitching, timely hitting, and the occasional sloppy defensive play, this was a game for you! Both Gerritt Cole and Charlie Morton had dominant stuff in the early going.
Unfortunately for Morton, he was undone a little by small errors — including two cross-ups with Zunino — that put the Rays in an early hole. He wriggled out of a two-on, one out jam in the second by striking out Aledmys Diaz and Max Stassi, but couldn’t do the same in the third.
Tony Kemp got the Astro rally started with a Brandon Guyer special hit by pitch. Kemp stole second during a Springer strikeout, but walked Altuve on a questionable ball four, bringing Bregman to the plate. It looked like Morton might escape again when he fanned Bregman on three pitches, but he paid the price when Michael Brantley doubled to right, scoring both runners. Brantley was thrown out trying to take third to end the inning.
The Rays answered in the bottom of the third in a big way, sending eight men to the plate, thanks in part to some sloppy Houston defense. Kevin Kiermaier got things started, flipping a curve the other way for a single to break up the no-hitter. After an Adames sharp line out to right, Zunino reached on a error by Aledmys Diaz, though this one was hard to fault the Houston shortstop. With Kiermaier breaking, the throw to first on the sharp grounder easily beat Zunino, but Gurriel got a little lazy and came off the bag early. After a flyout to center by Meadows sent KK to third, Tommy Pham ripped one into right field scoring Kiermaier and sending Zunino to third.
Pham then swiped second on a bluffed bunt by Choi, and Choi plated both runners by serving a single to center.
Morton was back on the horse after that, retiring six of the final seven hitters he faced. In his five innings, he gave up just the two runs on three hits, with two walks and eight strikeouts, including this on one of the many nasty sweeping curves he threw on the night.
Diego Castillo came on for the sixth. A hard out ground out to second by Bregman was followed by two sharp singles back through the middle, putting runners on first and second with one out. Luckily, a fourth hard hit ball back up the middle found Robertson, who started a sweet 4-6-3 double play to escape the inning.
In the bottom of the sixth, Yandy Diaz didn’t improve his launch angle by much. But when you hit the ball as hard as Yandy can, it doesn’t take much.
Well, that got out of here in a hurry. Let’s go to the tape.
420 feet. Hehe. Hehe.
Let’s look at that one more time.
Castillo went back out for a second inning, looking sharper this time and retiring the side in order on nine pitches, getting some help along the way from a nice diving stop by [checks notes] Ji-man Choi.
Roe came on for the eighth and walked Springer on four pitches to start things. A force out and a line out followed. With left hand hitting Michael Brantley due up next, Kevin Cash made the call to the bullpen for Adam Kolarek, who retired Brantley on a one pitch grounder to short.
With Josh James on to pitch the eighth for Houston, Pham drew a walk after falling behind 0-2. After a Choi strikeout, Pham advanced to second when a pitch in to Diaz went to the backstop. Diaz then popped to first, bringing Garcia to the plate. Garcia’s grounder to Diaz at short was played too casually, and the hustling Garcia beat the throw to first. Tommy Pham kept running around third in an attempt to score on the play, but was thrown out at the plate.
Jose Alvarado came on to close it out and retired the first two before giving up an 0-2 single to pinch hitter Tyler White. A five pitch walk to pinch hitting Robinson Chirinos followed, and things were suddenly too interesting. But the big lefty came back to strike out Kemp on four pitches and record his first save of the year.