J.A. Happ (8-5, 4.58) vs Collin McHugh (4-9, 3.45)
The Astros began August and the Jake Marisnick Era with 109 games behind them at 44-65 - exactly 8 games better than the 2011, 2012, and 2013 editions at the same point (36-73). Each of the last three years, Houston also lost Game #110, marching in lockstep at 36-74. Not so this time. Collin McHugh made his best start since June 19, Gregorio Petit hit his first ever MLB home run, and Chad Qualls returned to scoreless form after a bad week. Astros beat the Blue Jays 3-1, improving to 45-65 overall.
On the Mound:
*After the 1st inning five days ago, Collin McHugh settled in and pitched strong into the 7th. Tonight he pitched into the 7th again, but there was no shaky inning to put Houston in an insurmountable hole. The lone run he allowed was once more in the 1st, on two singles and a sac fly, but that was all Toronto would manage tonight. 111 pitches, 64 strikes, and a 6.1 IP / 5 H / 1 R / 1 ER / 1 BB / 5 K line for the Doctor.
*Darin Downs relieved McHugh in the 7th and retired all three batters he faced to end that frame and start the 8th.
*Jose Veras relieved Downs with Melky Cabrera and Jose Bautista coming up, and he retired both on a fly out and a strikeout, respectively.
*Then Chad Qualls got another shot at redemption after two straight losses on his ledger, and tonight he came through strong. A one-out infield single deflected by Matt Dominguez was the only blemish on Qualls' otherwise perfect evening, and he earned his 12th save of the year.
At the Plate:
*Not much offense on either side tonight - 6 hits for Toronto, 5 hits for Houston - and only 3 hits for Houston before the 8th. But that's when Gregorio Petit came up big, stroking a first-pitch fastball from Aaron Loup into the Crawford Boxes for his first home run in 67 big league at bats. Petit finished 1x3.
*A night after Jose Altuve's 12-game hitting streak was snapped, he started a new one, with a ground-rule double in the 8th that led to Houston's third run. He finished 1x4 with a steal and a run scored.
*J.A. Happ actually no-hit the Astros until two outs in the 4th tonight, when Chris Carter broke through with an infield single. Carter would end up scoring Houston's first run and finished 1x4 with 2 K.
*Jesus Guzman was 1x2 with a K, driving home Carter on a RBI single, before Jesus was forced from the game with back spasms in the 5th.
*Carlos Corporan went 1x3 with Houston's other hit.
*Mike Bob Grossman was 0x2 with a BB and a K, but earned a RBI by driving home Altuve on a sac fly.
*Matt Dominguez was also hitless at 0x3, but contributed a walk in 4th that moved Carter into scoring position, paving the way for the Astros' first run.
*Jake Marisnick did, in fact, make his Houston debut, but it was a quiet one, as he went 0x3.
J.A. Happ left, Aaron Loup came on, and Gregorio Petit deposited Loup's first pitch over the left field fence. That put Houston up 2-1, and on Loup's second pitch, Jose Altuve stroked a ground-rule double to left-center. With Robbie Grossman at the plate, Altuve stole third (#43 of the year for him), then Grossman flied out to right, bringing Jose home.
Man of the Match:
All due credit to Collin McHugh, but we'll give it to Gregorio Petit for his milestone - and game-winning - home run.
Goat of the Game:
L.J. Hoes, I guess - 0x3 with 2 K.