It didn't work, and that's a good thing.
The Indians, after watching the pen turn a 3-2 lead into a 8-3 deficit in the eighth inning, tried to rekindle some forgotten walk-off magic as they rallied for five runs in the ninth, but the rally wasn't big enough to win, just to tie and force extra innings.
So they played five more innings before Greg Allen, the No. 9 hitter, started the 14th inning with a game-winning homer off Houston's Brad Peacock for a 10-9 victory. The Indians are 1-4 in extra innings this season.
"I was just really trying to get on base," said Allen, after the Tribe's second walk-off win of the season. "I was just hoping to get a good pitch to hit and put a good swing on it. I was fortunate to do that."
The game almost didn't reach the 14th. Evan Gattis gave Houston a 9-8 lead in the 13th with a homer off Dan Otero. It was the second homer of the game for Gattis, but Yonder Alonso countered with one of his own in the 13th to keep the score tied at 9-9.
The Indians forced extra innings as Alonso, Jason Kipnis, Erik Gonzalez, Francisco Lindor and Michael Brantley had RBI singles in the ninth to make it an 8-8 game. The inning ended when the man who started the rally, Jose Ramirez, was denied a game-winning hit by a Yuli Gurriel's diving stop at first base for the third out.
Ramirez sparked the ninth-inning rally -- and perhaps the win -- with a 17-pitch at-bat against closer Ken Giles to start the inning. The at-bat ended in a double.
"It's so easy to give away at-bats in a situation like that," said Otero. "Josie is facing a guy throwing 99 mph with 89 mph wipeout breaking ball. I got goose bumps down in the pen watching that.
"I mean it's an 8-3 game and he hits a double and you just sense some life."
When the Indians didn't win it in the ninth, that brought the bullpen back into the game, but Cody Allen, Zach McAllister and Otero (1-1) were equal to the task. They combined to allow one run in five innings.
"Alonso picked me up," said Otero. "He gave me a second chance and I was glad to get that second chance."
Trevor Bauer, in his personal showdown with the Astros and former college teammate Gerrit Cole, left Sunday's game with a 3-2 lead with one out and two on in the eighth. He'd thrown a career-high 127 pitches, while striking out a season-high 13 batters.
Tribe reliever Evan Marshall undid all that in two pitches as Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa hit consecutive singles. Altuve, on his franchise-record 10th straight hit of the series, slapped a single past Lindor at shortstop to score George Springer from second base with the tying run. On Marshall's second pitch, Correa singled through the middle to score Alex Bregman with the go-ahead run.
But the Astros weren't done.
After Gurriel added an RBI single, Ben Taylor relieved and surrendered a three-run homer to Gattis on his fourth pitch of the game.
Marshall and Taylor arrived from Class AAA Columbus on Saturday after Oliver Drake was designated for assignment and Andrew Miller was placed on the disabled list. This is the second recycling for Marshall and Taylor and probably won't be the last.
The bullpen managed to piece together 3 1/3 decent innings Saturday night in a 8-6 victory. But in this four-game series, the Astros outscored the Indians, 26-8, from the sixth inning on. The pen entered Sunday's game at 0-7 with a 8.72 ERA in May. Sunday was it's first win of the month.
Bauer allowed four runs on five hits. The 13 strikeouts was the third time he's struck out 10 or more this season.
Cole, Bauer's teammate at UCLA, allowed three runs in seven innings. He struck eight and walked four.
In early May, Bauer trolled the Astros, implying that their pitchers had increased the spin rate on their pitches by using pine tar or other "sticky' substances. It was seen by many as a jab at Cole, who was acquired by the World Series champion Astros in the offseason.
But things ended peacefully between the two former Bruins, who have not always seen eye to eye.
"Ultimately, I think it turned out the best way possible," said Bauer. "I don't think he deserved to lose and I don't think I deserved to lose. I think we both pitched great. Both we're super competitive. Just a fun matchup for everyone envolved."
The Indians took a 2-0 lead in the first as Ramirez hit a first-pitch, two-run homer into the right field seats. Lindor, who opened the inning with a walk, scored in front of him.It was Ramirez's 15th homer and eighth this month.
Houston came back to make it 2-1 on Max Stassi's two-out homer in the second. Stassi hit a 3-2 pitch 411 just inside the foul pole down the left field line. It was the first run Bauer allowed in 15 consecutive innings.
The Indians pushed the lead to 3-1 on Allen's double and some great hustle by Jason Kipnis. Mike Sarbaugh's green light at third helped as well.
Allen, with two out and Kipnis on first, rolled a double into right field just off the foul line. Springer had a long run to reach the ball. Kipnis sped around second and hit third as Sarbaugh waved him home. Kipnis dove across the plate just ahead of Stassi's tag.
Cole, who entered the game leading the AL with 101 strikeouts, settled down after that. The same could be said for Bauer.
After Stassi's homer, Bauer retired 10 of the next 11 Astros. He found trouble in the sixth when he walked Springer to start the inning. He came back to strike out Alex Bregman on a disputed strike, which prompted plate umpire Tony Randazzo to eject Houston manager A.J. Hinch for arguing from the dugout.
Altuve followed Hinch's ejection with a double to center cut the Tribe's lead to 3-2.
With Altuve at third -- he took home on the the throw -- Bauer struck out Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel to protect the Tribe's lead.
Cole, after Allen's double, didn't allow another runner past first base. After Allen walked to start the fifth, he retired eight straight, striking out the side in order in the seventh. Cole delivered his 109th pitch of the game, a strike, to Roberto Perez at 98 mph in the seventh.
What it means
The win pushed Indians one game over .500 at 26-25. They are the only team over .500 in the AL Central. Also, Brantley extended his hitting streak to 16 games with a single in the third. It's the longest active streak in the big leagues and the longest by an Indians' player this season.
Bauer threw 127 pitches, 79 (62 percent) for strikes. Cole threw 112 pitches, 77 (69 percent) for strikes.
Thanks for coming
The Astros and Indians drew 27,765 fans to Progressive Field on Sunday afternoon. First pitch was at 1:11 p.m. with a temperature of 80 degrees.
The White Sox visit Progressive Field for the first time this season for a three-game series starting Monday afternoon at 4:10 p.m. Rookie right-hander Adam Plutko (2-0, 2.03) will make his third start of the season against Chicago's Dylan Covey (1-1, 3.46). SportsTime Ohio and ESPN will televise the game. WLKR/FM 95.3 will carry the game on radio.