There’s probably never a bad time to get your first win in the major leagues. But if there were, Astros reliever Josh Fields may have done it.
The right-hander was the pitcher of record when Houston scored three ninth-inning runs off Oakland closer Grant Balfour for a dramatic 5-4 walk-off win over the A’s on Tuesday at Minute Maid Park.
Fields’ win was completely overshadowed by Jarred Cosart, 23, making his home debut, by 23-year-old Matt Dominguez’s game-tying two-run home run in the ninth, and by 22-year-old Jonathan Villar, in only his second major league game, scoring the winning run from second base on catcher Derek Norris’ throwing error.
“It feels awesome and I just feel blessed,” said Fields, a 27-year-old rookie. “And those young guys, I’m pumped for them, especially for Cosart getting his first start at home in Houston. He threw unbelievable.
“And Villar has come in right off the bat and helped us. He got some hits and scored the winning run. It’s great to see guys come up and help our team so fast.”
Villar was 3-for-4 with two runs and two doubles in raising his batting average to .500. Dominguez’s 12th home run, but his first since June 25, traveled 407 feet to center field and scored Justin Maxwell. Balfour had saved 44 consecutive opportunities dating to last year and it was his first loss since June 23, 2012 at Seattle.
“When he hit that ball, the first thing I thought of was, there’s not many balls that go out at that part of the park,” said Fields. “So I’m thinking I hope it gets over the outfielder’s head. And then it hit pretty high up the wall. He tagged that pretty good so it was exciting.”
Fields (1-1) entered the game in the ninth inning with the Astros behind 4-2. Fields relieved Jose Cisnero, who allowed a two-run home run to Brandon Moss in the eighth inning that broke a 2-2 tie.
Fields faced five batters and pitched a scoreless ninth inning that included strikeouts of Chris Young and Norris.
“For me to get the win, I was pumped to get in there and get the job done in the ninth inning,” said Fields. “To give our team a chance to come back I feel good.”