Second straight meltdown by an otherwise stellar bullpen performer for the Astros this season.
Everything was peachy until they took Jose Urquidy out.
It was another outstanding starting pitching performance for the Astros, and Urquidy was well on his way to an eight-inning shutout, on the heels of starting pitching shutouts by Astros pitchers in the previous two games.
But with a runner on first after a two-out infield single, they took Urquidy out.
The White Sox proceeded to score four straight runs on reliever Rafael Montero, who failed to record an out.
And yet, it started peachy for the Astros.
The Stros struck early. Surprise lead-off hitter Mauricio Dubon made manager Dusty Baker look good with a single to start the game. He got to third on an error on a grounder by Yuli Gurriel and scored on a Yordan Alvarez sacrifice fly. Gurriel scored on an Alex Bregman double to left center to give the Stros an early 2-0 lead.
From then until the eighth inning the game belonged to starting pitchers Urquidy and the Sox’s Johhny Cueto.
Before being lifted with two outs in the eighth, Urquidy had allowed only six hits, no walks, with four strikeouts. Urquidy threw 67 strikes out of 94 pitches and was credited with allowing only the one run that scored after he left in the eighth inning.
Meanwhile, Johnny Cueto allowed only the two runs, one earned, also allowing six hits, with one walk and three K’s.
The Astros lost thanks to another relief meltdown by Rafael Montero, his second meltdown in his last two appearances. Against the A’s it didn’t matter, but this time it cost the Astros a win.
Montero gave up a double to Andrew Vaughn, a two-run double to Eloy Jimenez, an intentional walk to Jose Abreu, another walk to Yasmani Grandal, and with the bases loaded a two-run single to Yoan Moncada.
Phil Maton finished the work Urquidy started to close out the inning, but the Astros surrendered meekly in the ninth, losing by a final score of 4-2.
In his last two games, Montero has faced nine batters and retired only one of them, allowing five runs plus tonight’s inherited run charged to Urquidy.
What’s going on?
Oh well, the Astros remain two + games ahead of New York for first place in the AL, as the Yanks lost to Tampa Bay 4-0. They too wasted an excellent starting pitcher performance, as Gerrit Cole wound up the losing pitcher after allowing only one run.
Despite the no-decision for Urquidy, he made another strong statement to be in the starting rotation come playoff time.
Tomorrow two Cy Young candidates go at it, Justin Verlander versus Dylan Cease.
Game time 7:10