“The homers kind of did us in tonight, but this is a club that hits homers,” Dusty Baker told reporters after Washington’s 6-1 loss to the Houston Astros in Wednesday night’s matchup in Minute Maid Park.
A.J. Hinch’s club started the night tied for the major league lead in home runs with 195 and added three more in the second of three with the Nationals.
Their first run scored as a result of a miscommunication in right-center, however.
A misplay on a fly by Jose Altuve resulted in a hometown scorer’s triple when Michael A. Taylor and Andrew Stevenson nearly collided and had the ball bounce off Stevenson’s glove and roll around the outfield as the speedy Astro made his way around to third.
The misplayed/catchable fly set the Astros up with a runner on third so that a sac fly could tie things up at 1-1 after the Nationals had jumped out to an early lead.
Edwin Jackson, who started for the Nats, left a curve up inside to Jake Marisnick in the fifth, and the Astros’ outfielder launched a solo shot to left center that put the home team ahead, 2-1.
Those were the only two runs Jackson allowed on the night, the Astros’ other four came against the Nationals’ bullpen.
• Edwin Jackson’s Line: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 1 HR, 95 P, 58 S, 5/6 GO/FO.
“Jackson, he threw a heck of a game, and he left 2-1, and it really should have been just one run, the home run by Marisnick,” Baker said.
Jackson needed just 70 pitches to get through five, but the Astros loaded the bases in a 25-pitch sixth inning before the Nats’ righty worked his way out of a jam that ended his night.
“He kept the ball down,” Baker said, “he had a good breaking ball tonight, and he threw the ball well, his pitch count was relatively low until that one inning, when they threatened, but he got out of it, and like I said, he threw the ball very well tonight.”
It was still a 2-1 game in Houston’s favor after seven innings, but the Astros added two home runs in the eighth, one a solo shot by Max Stassi off of Matt Grace, and a three-run blast by Alex Bregman off Shawn Kelley, who came on with two out and gave up a single, a walk, and the home run that put the home team up, 6-1.
“[Jackson] threw the ball well,” Baker said, “... and then the home run to Stassi and then the home run to Bregman, and so that was kind of the ballgame.”
Baker was asked about Kelley’s season-long struggles with the long ball.
He’s now given up 11 in 20 innings this season after he gave up nine in 58 IP in 2016, in the first year of his three-year deal with the Nationals, and four in 51 1⁄3 IP in 2015.
“He’s missing location,” Baker said, summing up Kelley’s issues rather succinctly.
Pressed for more details about what’s been causing the 33-year-old’s issues, Baker did note that the right-hander is coming off an extended stint on the DL for a trapezius strain.
“You know he is coming back, you know he is a little rusty, that’s why I said he missed location, and he really didn’t have command of his fastball like he usually does, and hopefully he’ll get it together here soon.”