It's a long season, and when you're only winning about a quarter of your games, you have to get creative in order to find a new way to lose. Such is the case for the Astros, who blew a 4-1 lead against the Pirates on Wednesday night and lost in the ninth inning on a walk-off… collision (GIF courtesy of Chad Moriyama of mlbgifs.com):
The score had been knotted at 4-4 going into the bottom of the ninth. The Pirates loaded the bases with a pair of singles, a fielder's choice and an error by pitcher Edgar Gonzalez, who recovered to strike out Neil Walker for the second out. Russell Martin worked the count to 3-2 and then hit what appeared to be a routine pop-up into shallow right centerfield. Second baseman Jake Elmore, a rookie playing in just his third major league game, signaled for it, but right fielder Jimmy Paredes, running at full speed, barreled into him just as the ball hit his glove. It fell on the ground, and Travis Snider crossed the plate with the winning run. Paredes was charged with the error.
Not only is it the second time this week that two Astros have collided in the field, it's the second one involving Paredes. On Monday, he and Jose Altuve ran into each other, with the latter suffering a partially dislocated jaw, though to be fair, that time he looked less at fault.
Converted from the infield to the outfield last August, Paredes doesn't have much experience in the pasture, just 30 minor league games and 25 major league games. "I like his bat, but he's bad everywhere they put him. Poor routes in the OF, bad hands in the INF," said Jason Cole, a member of the Baseball Prospectus prospect team, via Twitter (@LoneStarDugout). A .326/.365/.496 hitter in parts of two seasons at Triple-A, Paredes has hit just .250/.290/.342 in 295 plate appearances at the major league level. He had entered Friday night's game as a pinch-runner for the defensively challenged Chris Carter in the eighth inning. Elmore was out there instead of Altuve because he was the player the Astros called up when their cult hero second baseman took bereavement leave on Tuesday following the death of his grandmother.
With the loss, the Astros fall to 11-31 for a .262 winning percentage and a 42-120 pace, which would make them the worst team since the 1962 Mets went 40-120 (.250); the 2003 Tigers went 43-119 (.265). As for the Pirates, they ran their record to 25-17, moving them into a tie for second place in the NL Central, 2 1/2 games behind the Cardinals, and tied with the Reds for the wild-card lead.