Alex Wood (5-6, 3.43) vs Collin McHugh (4-5, 2.76)
Collin McHugh tonight held the Braves to three hits (two for extra bases) over seven innings. Alex Wood tonight held the Astros to three hits (two for extra bases) over seven innings. Neither pitcher allowed more than one hit in any inning. McHugh allowed one more walk than Wood (2:1), but struck out five more (9:4). You'd think, then, this pitcher's duel should have been even, or perhaps swung slightly to Houston's side. But such have not been the breaks for these punchless Astros in this second half of June. For the third time in a week, and the tenth time this season, Houston gets shutout: 4-0 tonight. The loss gives Houston their second four-game losing streak in the last nine games, and they drop to 33-46 overall.
On the Mound:
*It is a tired narrative by now to say that Collin McHugh (or pick an Astros starter, really) did not deserve to lose. Certainly McHugh didn't last time out, when he allowed only 2 runs (both unearned) on 4 hits over 6 innings, but lose he did. Tonight he was even better, allowing only 1 run on 2 hits over his first 6 innings of work. He stayed in for one more inning this time, when unfortunately one mistake (a Jason Heyward HBP) was compounded by another (a 2-run Justin Upton homer). But with no Astros offense to back him up, one run or ten wouldn't matter. And so, unfairly, Doctor McHugh loses his third straight start thus: 7 IP / 3 H / 3 R / 3 ER / 2 BB / 9 K line.
*pr0FF3ss0r_F4rnsw0rth got his first appearance in a week, and got Andrelton Simmons to ground out leading off the 8th. But then a B.J. Upton double sent the pr0FF3ss0r to the showers...
*...in favor of lefty Darin Downs, brought on to face rookie lefty Tommy La Stella. With La Stella batting, Downs balked Upton up to third, which let him score when La Stella grounded out. Downs' interesting evening continued by hitting Freddie Freeman on the elbow (sending Freeman from the game), then Jason Castro got the third out of the inning by catching pinch-runner Ramiro Pena stealing second.
*Jerome Williams allowed a leadoff Evan Gattis double starting the 9th, but then set down the next three Braves in order, including a strikeout of Chris Johnson to end the frame.
At the Plate:
*Not even MLB hits leader Jose Altuve could break through for Houston tonight. Altuve went 0x4, snapping his 7-game hitting streak and marking his first full hitless game since June 10 @ Arizona. He did add an AL-leading 28th stolen base after reaching on a fielder's choice.
*Dexter Fowler led off the 1st for Houston with a double, and also had the team's only walk, finishing 1x3 with a K.
*Jonathan Singleton had a double up Tal's Hill in the 4th that could have been a triple if not eaten by the wall, so he settled for a 1x4, 2 K night.
*New SI cover boy George Springer "celebrated" with a single and 3 K's, finishing 1x4.
Atlanta scratched out their first run against Collin McHugh on a double (Gattis), groundout (Heyward), and sac fly (J. Upton) in the 2nd, but still Houston hung in as the only other hit McHugh allowed before the 7th was a 6th-inning Freeman single that was immediately erased in a TOOTBLAN. With the current state of the Astros' offense, though, it was clear they were sunk when the Braves followed Jason Heyward's HBP in the 7th with Justin Upton's second home run in as many nights.
Man of the Match:
Collin McHugh. Soon he'll learn the 2005 Roger Clemens lesson that you can't allow ANY runs if you want to win.
Goat of the Game:
All The Bats. Again. Still. Always.