It was August 26th, and the Astros were set to open a 3 game series against the Rays. The ‘Stros were coming fresh off a 5-2 road trip that had them back in the playoff picture, but were still in desperate need of wins to keep pace in a congested wildcard race.
The game turned out to be a tight contest. Mike Fiers and Wade Smyly both turned in quality starts, and heading into the 9th the game was tied at 3. The Astros called upon the red-hot Ken Giles, who was 4/4 in save attempts since taking over the closers role from Will Harris. But with two outs in the inning, rookie outfielder Mike Mahtook, who was hitting just .154 on the season, took advantage of a 2-0 fastball and crushes a ball over the Crawford Boxes.
He accompanies the homer with a bat flip, giving the Rays a 4-3 lead. The energy was sucked out of Minute Maid as the Friday night crowd sensed they were about to witness yet another late inning loss.
But the Astros weren’t done yet, and in the bottom of the inning young phenom Carlos Correa stepped to the plate. Tampa countered with Alex Colome, who had blown only 1 save in 28 attempts all season. On the first pitch of the at-bat, Colome throws a fastball high and away. Correa goes with the pitch and drills an opposite field liner, getting just enough on it to put it into the seats.
With the game now tied and momentum on the Astros side, Evan Gattis stepped to the plate. He quickly fell behind 1-2, fouling off some tough pitches to keep the count alive. He eventually manages to work it full. On the 9th pitch of the at-bat, Colome throws a fastball about a foot above the strike zone. Gattis wasn’t looking to take a walk:
Gattis absolutely annihilates the ball, sending it over the railroad tracks and walking it off for the Astros in dramatic fashion. It's moments like these that make el Oso Blanco a fan favorite. No batting gloves, crouched stance, grizzly beard. He looks like a misplaced caveman, but then he drills a head-high fastball over the railroad. The guy is a monster and I’m glad he’ll be sticking around next season.
It was an emotional win and a pivotal moment in the Astros season, as they followed with a 5-1 stretch that had them within half a game of the wildcard.
Unfortunately, that's about as close as they would get.
I'm disappointed the Astros aren't in the postseason, but it's moments like these that have me looking forward to next year. We are still a young team, we are only getting better, and there will be plenty of postseasons for us to enjoy in the future. Until then, lets try to remember the good times.