Brett Oberholtzer (0.1, 3.75) versus Felix Hernandez (9-2, 2.51)
Well, that losing streak ended quickly. It took about one-third of an inning, to be exact, as the Astros jumped on King Felix early. Brett Oberholtzer has his best start in quite a while, and the Astros rolled by a score of 10-0. The handsome and hard-working Constable chose a great game to attend for his first trip to MMP in 2015, watching the Astros improve their record to 7-1 against the Mariners this year.
What Went Right:
The First Inning went really, really well. Obie retired the side in order on nine pitches in the top half of the frame, including a three pitch strikeout of Mark Trumbo. The bottom half of the inning went better than any inning this year for the Astros. Their previous high in runs scored in a single inning in 2015 was 5 - in this frame they hung 8 runs on Felix Hernandez with the only out recorded as a strikeout of Carlos Correa.
How did it happen?? Easy! Jose Altuve was in an 0-2 count early, then he grounded a relatively routine ball to Willy Bloomquist, who stayed back on the play, and crow-hopped before releasing the throw. That was enough for Altuve to reach by a half-step. Felix then missed on four straight pitches to Preston Tucker, putting runners on first and second. George Springer was up next, and he grounded a 2-0 fastball away just out of the reach of a diving Logan Morrison for a double, scoring Altuve. Evan Gattis grounded his first pitch back to the mound - Felix jumped for it, and made an off-balance throw home, which got past Zunino low and on the first-base side of home plate, scoring Tucker and Springer. Colby Rasmus followed with a walk on a very close 3-2 pitch, putting runners on first and second with one out. After Correa's strikeout, Luis Valbuena mashed a hanging changeup on the outer portion of the strike zone into the RF bullpen for a three run shot, breaking his own 0-19 skid. Chris Carter then singled through the 5.5 hole on an 0-2 pitch, then Jason Castro took a 1-1 elevated fastball away, and deposited it into the Crawford Boxes for a two-run home-run. That chased King Felix, who pitched to nine batters, allowing eight to reach (1 fielder's choice, 5 hits, 2 walks) while allowing two home runs and a double.
What also went right was Brett Oberholtzer, who looked sharp and was spotting the ball very nicely. His final line was eight innings pitched (108 pitches), 3 hits, 2 walks and 5 strikeouts for no runs. He pitched out of a mini-jam in the second (a lead-off single and one-out error allowed two runners to reach) and sixth (a lead off walk and a two-out single), but faced the minimum in the first, third, fourth, fifth (thanks to a double-play) and seventh. Very efficient, and very welcome for an Astros pitching rotation in a bit of flux at the moment.
Joe Thatcher got mop-up duties, and he pitched a scoreless frame. However, that took 23 pitches, so I can't imagine that he will be ready to go tomorrow night. However, the rest of the 'pen is on at least two days' rest. Curious that Hinch would mop-up with one of the two lefties in the 'pen - I would have thought given the Mariners roster construction that righty mop-up would be the plan, leaving the lefties fresh for the rest of the series.
The Mariners' bullpen had to clean up after their second short start in a row. Last night, J.A. Happ only lasted two-and-one-third in a loss, so the 'pen covered the remaining five-and-two-thirds between three pitchers. Tonight, the 'pen had to cover seven-and-two-thirds, and backup catcher Jesus Sucre got to pitch the bottom of the eighth. He did well, retiring the side on seven pitches, allowing only one hit (to Marwin González).
The Astros hit with power again. They mashed two doubles (Springer and Rasmus) and four home runs (Valbuena, Castro, Correa and Carter). Carters' shot was especially impressive - it hit the train in the LF power alley, estimated at 430'.
Carlos Correa opened his account at MMP with a nice opposite field shot off Joe Beimel. It was a good-sized tap again, flying easily into the Astros' bullpen. The dude has looked the part so far, including another solid defensive night.
Good offensive nights all through the team. Chris Carter went 2-3 with a walk and a home run, whereas George Springer, Evan Gattis, Colby Rasmus and Jason Castro all went 1-3 with a walk. Correa and Valbuena went 1-4 (but both their hits landed in the RF bullpen), Preston Tucker went 1-4 with a walk, González went 1-3 after he replaced Jose Altuve to start the second. Altuve went 1-2.
What Went Wrong:
Jose Altuve will sit out tomorrow's game with a sore right hamstring. He pulled up after as he ran through first base during his second at-bat in the first inning. He is listed as day-to-day, but it has already been announced that he will cool his heels on Saturday.
The Angels and Rangers both won. Good on them. I guarantee that if the Astros score 10 runs a game for the last 100 games of the season, it won't really matter what the Angels and Rangers do.
Man of the Match:
Brett Oberholtzer, who recorded his best start of the year. I watched most of it, and I don't think that he looked at his fingers once. Hopefully, the blisters are history.
Goat of the Game:
No need for a Goat tonight. Solid, all-round team win.
Lefty Mike Montgomery (0-1, 2.08) versus Collin McHugh (6-2, 4.34)
4 Eastern, 3 Central.