Less than two weeks ago Jack Mayfield flew to Boston because the Houston Astros told him he was going to make his long-awaited major league debut after seven seasons in the minors.
When he arrived, they didn’t need him after all after an injury to Aledmys Diaz wasn’t so bad. So and he had to hop on a plane and head right back to Triple-A.
The undrafted free agent got the call again on Sunday night, and on Monday after more than 600 games and 2,500 plate appearances in the minors, Mayfield made his major league debut, getting a hit and driving in a run to help Houston to a 6-5 win over the Chicago Cubs.
“It just delayed my debut,” Mayfield said of his jaunt to Boston. “But everything happens for a reason and I got to make it here in Houston, so it was still special.”
Manager AJ Hinch beamed when asked about Mayfield’s performance Monday.
“It’s a long journey for these guys and his story is one to be told because it’s improbable and he never thought he’d get the opportunity,” he said. “We teased him a little bit last week with almost an opportunity, and I can only imagine the emotions that someone (goes) through.”
Gerrit Cole tied a season high with 12 strikeouts in six solid innings and the Astros reached Cole Hamels early and held on for the victory in the opener of an interleague series.
Anthony Rizzo hit a two-run homer in the first inning, but Cole (5-5) dominated after that, allowing two singles and striking out 10 over the next five innings.
Playing without injured stars Jose Altuve and George Springer, and Carlos Correa, who got a day off, the Astros cut the deficit to one in the second and scored five times off Hamels (4-1) in the third to take a 6-2 lead.
Yuli Gurriel had three hits and an RBI and Derek Fisher and Alex Bregman added two hits each as the Astros won for the third time in four games.
Hamels, who had allowed just six runs combined in his last three starts, yielded seven hits and a season-high six runs in four innings for his first loss.
“He wasn’t sharp, but this has been going on for about a week — the ball is just missing our defense by a bounce here or a ball down the line there,” manager Joe Maddon said. “But he wasn’t sharp and he’ll be the first one to admit that. Cole was not typical Cole Hamels.”
The Astros sent eight to the plate as they built their lead in the third. Bregman singled before Michael Brantley drew a walk. Houston tied it when Bregman scored on a single by Gurriel. A double by Robinson Chirinos scored Brantley.
Mayfield’s RBI groundout made it 4-2 before Tyler White walked. Chirinos and White both advanced a base on a wild pitch by Hamels, which led to the pitcher calling catcher Willson Contreras to the mound for a chat.
But a run-scoring single by Fisher came next and Jake Marisnick pushed the lead to 6-2 with an RBI groundout.
The Cubs got going again at the plate after Cole exited, cutting the lead to 6-3 on an RBI single by David Bote in the seventh to chase Hector Rondon. Will Harris who got out of the inning when White stretched to make a tough catch on a line drive by Kyle Schwarber with two men on base.
Albert Almora Jr., homered off Roberto Osuna to start the ninth. Addison Russell added a solo shot with one out and Bote singled before Osuna struck out Schwarber. He got his 14th save when he struck out Javier Baez to end it.
Cubs: The Cubs were without Kris Bryant and Jason Heyward after the two were involved in an outfield collision Sunday against Cincinnati. Maddon said Heyward would likely return on Tuesday but that he doubted that Bryant would play. … Chicago called up OF Jim Adduci from Triple-A Iowa with Bryant and Heyward both out Monday. … Reliever Pedro Strop (hamstring) will play a rehabilitation game at Iowa on Tuesday. Maddon said that he might need just one appearance before returning to the roster. … LHP Mike Montgomery came on to relieve Hamels in the fifth but left without throwing a pitch because of discomfort on his left middle finger.
Astros: 2B Altuve (hamstring) was 1 for 4 in the second game of a rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Round Rock on Monday. … Houston placed INF Díaz on the 10-day injured list with a strained left hamstring on Monday and selected the contract of Mayfield to the major league roster.
Rizzo’s homer on Monday was his 15th this season and is the earliest he’s had that many homers in a season, besting 2017 when he got to 15 on June 14. He has nine home runs and 24 RBIs in 21 games this month.
THEY SAID IT
Hinch on Houston’s work in the third inning: “We’ve done that before against Hamels where you look up and it’s 70-plus pitches in three innings or into the mid-80s into the fourth inning. That means we’re being disciplined.”
Cubs: LHP Jon Lester (3-3, 2.68) is scheduled to start for Chicago on Tuesday night. Lester has a 9.72 ERA in his last two starts after posting a 1.16 ERA in his first seven starts this season.
Astros: Rookie RHP Corbin Martin (1-1, 4.97) will start for Houston. Martin allowed six hits and four runs, three earned, in 3 1/3 innings of a 4-0 loss to the White Sox in his last start.