Collin McHugh (4-4, 3.03) vs Chris Archer (3-4, 3.40)
This one can't be blamed on the bullpen, at least. Nor is it really Collin McHugh's fault, either. A costly error by Jonathan Villar certainly hurt Houston's cause. But no, this one... this was all on the bats. The last time the Astros won, it was five days ago against these Rays, and they drubbed Chris Archer to the tune of 6 runs in 3 innings. But tonight, Archer was a riddle the Astro bats could never solve, so it didn't matter what the pitching and defense did around them. Houston falls for the fourth straight game, 5-0 tonight, and drops to 32-42 overall.
On the Mound:
*Collin McHugh officially "earned" the loss tonight, but unjustly so - he truthfully pitched very well, on this, his 27th birthday. The Doctor had yet to go more than 5 innings in any June start, but tonight he lasted 6, and gave up no earned runs for the fourth time this season. "No EARNED runs" being the key, as a botched double play ball by Villar in the 4th led to two unearned Rays runs, which was more than they would need on this night. McHugh's tough luck line went thus: 6 IP / 4 H / 2 R / 0 ER / 3 BB / 6 K.
*Paul (Not Roger) Clemens is back with the big club, but still pitched like he belongs in OKC. Back-to-back home runs by Kevin Kiermaier and Evan Longoria in the 7th - the first with a runner on - gave Tampa Bay three more runs, on four total hits, in (Not Roger)'s one inning of work.
*With the Astros on a losing streak, Chad Qualls had not pitched in a week, so he got the 8th inning tonight. A two-out single was the only bump in his scoreless frame.
At the Plate:
*Jose Altuve oughtta be an All-Star, and he went 2x4 with 2 SB tonight.
*George Springer singled in the 1st, and finished 1x4 with a K.
*And those were all the hits Houston had tonight - three singles. Three walks went one each to Dexter Fowler (0x3), Jason Castro (0x3), and Alex Presley (0x2, K).
*But Springer and Villar are fine dancers.
With the game scoreless in the bottom of the 4th, James Loney led off with a single. On a 2-2 fastball, Doctor McHugh got Brandon Guyer to ground softly to Jose Altuve at second for a tailor-made double play ball. Altuve gloved it cleanly and tossed to Jonathan Villar for the first out, but Villar failed the catch and the ball rolled away, turning what should have been none on, two outs into two on, no outs. Matt Joyce popped up to Jonathan Singleton on an infield fly for the first recorded out of the inning, but Yunel Escobar followed with a single to center that scored Loney for a 1-0 Rays lead. Two pitches later, Ryan Hanigan brought home Guyer on a sacrifice bunt to McHugh, and both outs that Houston should have had turned into runs.
Man of the Match:
Jose Altuve, who last night passed 500 career hits, 111 ABs quicker than Craig Biggio.
Goat of the Game:
All The Bats. And Jonathan Villar. Dance skills or not.