MLB Rankings: Baseball’s Greatest Hits of Week-20

BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 11: Baltimore Orioles third baseman Rio Ruiz (14) is doused with liquid after hitting a game winning two run home run against the Houston Astros on August 9, 2019, at Orioles Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, MD. (Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 11: Baltimore Orioles third baseman Rio Ruiz (14) is doused with liquid after hitting a game winning two run home run against the Houston Astros on August 9, 2019, at Orioles Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, MD. (Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images)
(Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images) /

MLB Rankings: Greatest Hits in Week-20

7. Michael Brantley, 47 percent

One day earlier, the Houston Astros had cuffed around the Baltimore Orioles 23-3, Houston’s fourth victory over Baltimore in five games. With Justin Verlander taking the mound Sunday, the betting favored another Astros victory.

But baseball can be unpredictable that way. Baltimore cuffed Verlander around for nine hits and four runs through five innings and led 5-4 going into the top of the ninth.

Against Baltimore’s sometimes shaky bullpen, however, that left plenty of time for an Astros rally. Facing Mychal Givens, George Springer opened the inning with a line drive base hit. Jose Altuve laid down a bunt and got a break when Orioles third baseman Rio Ruiz failed to retire Springer or Altuve.

With the tying and go-ahead runs on base, Michael Brantley came up next. Hitless in his three previous at-bats – two of them strikeouts – Brantley fell behind 1-2, then clipped a hot grounder inside the first baseline that rolled all the way to the wall.

Springer and Altuve raced around to give Houston a 6-5 lead, and when Orioles right fielder Anthony Santander’s throw got away, Brantley came all the way around to make it 7-5.

On almost any other day, a two-run ninth-inning lead against the Orioles would have translated to an Astros win. On this day, however, Baltimore had other plans. More on that later.