A home run to lead off the bottom of the tenth by pinch-hitter Tony Kemp powered the Houston Astros over the Cleveland Indians on Saturday afternoon by a 4-3 final.
The Indians fought back late to tie the game in the seventh inning, but managed just one hit over the final three innings while stranding Roberto Perez at second base after his leadoff single in the top of the tenth. Adam Cimber came on for Cleveland in the bottom of the tenth, but his outing lasted just four pitches before the opposing dugout celebrated at home plate.
The light-hitting Kemp grabbed a bat to hit for catcher Max Stassi, who had just three hits in 30 plate appearances on the year entering the at bat. Kemp took a first pitch strike before two pitches off of the plate. Cimber missed up and in on pitch four and Kemp got his hands around in a hurry, driving the sinker over the wall in the right field corner to give the Astros their first walk-off win of the season with a 4-3 victory.
Houston moved to 16-11 on the year with the win and avoided losing their first home series of the campaign. The loss for Cleveland dropped the club to 15-11 on the year and 8-7 on the road as its three-game winning streak came to an end.
Shane Bieber and Brad Peacock drew the starting nods for their respective clubs and pitched good games despite not factoring in the final decision. Both provided quality six-inning starts before turning the outcome over to the bullpens.
The Astros jumped out to an early lead in the bottom of the second. Bieber gave up a leadoff single to Carlos Correa before walking Josh Reddick. Yuli Gurriel lined out to left before Aledmys Diaz doubled the first pitch of his afternoon to the right-center gap to plate Correa with the game’s first run. With two in scoring position and only one out, Bieber froze Stassi and George Springer on called third strikes to waste a big early scoring opportunity.
Peacock retired the first six in order, escaping an overturned home run call on the third pitch of the game to Leonys Martin. He walked Tyler Naquin to start the third before striking out the next three in order.
Bieber retired the side in order in the third for the first time on the day before his offense gave him some support. Jose Ramirez lined a single to right and motored to third on a single to left by Carlos Gonzalez. Carlos Santana grounded into a double play, but Ramirez scored on the play to tie the game at one.
Bieber retired the side in order again in the fourth and worked around a two-out walk and a steal by Springer in the fifth. In the sixth, things changed after a leadoff walk to Bregman. Bieber got former teammate Michael Brantley to fly to left on the next pitch, but Correa drove a 1-1 pitch into the Crawford boxes to give Houston a 3-1 lead. Bieber ended his day with back-to-back strikeouts of Reddick and Gurriel, but the Tribe had a deficit to fight.
Cleveland did just that, rallying back with a big seventh inning against reliever Will Harris, on for a third straight day. With one down, Jake Bauers reached on an infield single to short and Naquin followed with a single to center. Astros manager AJ Hinch went to his bullpen for right-hander Ryan Pressly and Tribe skipper Terry Francona countered with pinch-hitter Francisco Lindor. After a first pitch strike, Pressly uncorked a wild pitch to move both runners up 90 feet, and two pitches later, Lindor lofted a fly ball to his friend Brantley in left, deep enough to score Bauers to make it a 3-2 game. Nine-hitter Mike Freeman worked the count full before pulling a single through the right side to tie the game at three.
Dan Otero kept the game even as the first man out of the Indians bullpen. He got two grounders and a line out in an easy seventh.
Jose Altuve reached on an infield single to start the bottom of the eighth before Otero got Bregman to pop out to short. Tyler Olson came on to face one batter, striking out Brantley, and Tyler Clippard made his Indians debut with a big four-pitch strikeout of Correa to strand the go-ahead run at first. Clippard followed the strikeout with a perfect eight-pitch ninth, striking out one in a strong first outing to open the year.
Houston contained the Cleveland bats with a frustrating performance from Roberto Osuna, who used deceptive deliveries to keep the Indians off balance. Using quick pitches and staggered approaches to the plate, he retired the side in order in the ninth before Perez singled to right-center to start the tenth. He was sacrificed over to second, but Martin struck out before Ramirez flied to right in the Tribe’s last ditch efforts.
Bieber worked six innings and was charged with three runs on three hits with four walks and nine strikeouts while throwing 106 pitches. Otero, Olson, and Clippard combined for three scoreless innings of one-hit baseball, striking out three.
Peacock pitched well enough to win, but the blown save by Pressly allowed two runs to be charged to Harris, tying the game and erasing Peacock as the pitcher of record. The starter worked six, giving up a run on four hits with a walk and seven Ks.
The Indians went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position, stranding five on the day. Brantley’s 12-game hitting streak came to an end with an 0-for-4 day at the plate with an uncharacteristic two strikeouts. Correa was the big weapon for the Astros, going 2-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored while striking out in his other two trips to the plate.
The Indians will look to win the series in their second straight Sunday night ball game in front of a national audience on ESPN. Carlos Carrasco (2-2, 6.00 ERA) will take the mound for the Tribe, looking to bounce back after leaving his last start after four scoreless innings with a knee injury. The Astros will counter with left-hander Wade Miley (1-2, 3.58), who has made three quality starts this season, but has come up on the losing end of two of those.
First pitch from Minute Maid Park is scheduled for 7:08 PM ET.
Photo: Bob Levey/Getty Images