Monday, April 11, 2016

From the Office of the County Clerk - G7: Astros v. Kansas City

Collin McHugh (0-1, 135.00) v. Chris Young (0-1, 3.60)

In 2015, the Astros equaled the Toronto Blue Jays for the best home record in the American League (53-28). With a too-much-like-2015 six-game road trip now behind them, the 2016 Astros began their Minute Maid defense tonight in a rematch against a Kansas City team defending some other trophy that should have been ours but Goatpen.

The Houston offense followed Collin McHugh's 1-2-3 1st with 3 runs of quick support, and the Astros never looked back, knocking off the Royals 8-2.

On the Mound:
The good news for Collin McHugh - he of the rarefied 135.00 ERA - is that his second start of the year could hardly have gone worse than his first. The better news for McHugh, and all of his Houston mates, is that his second start could hardly have been more different. 7 scoreless innings will go a long way towards helping your team win, and that's the contribution that Doctor McHugh turned in tonight: 7 IP / 8 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 1 BB / 4 K.

Kansas City managed runners second and third with 2 outs in the 4th; first and second with one out in the 5th; and bases loaded with one out in the 7th, but never managed to scratch against McHugh, as he escaped with a Salvador Perez fly to center (4th), Mike Moustakas GIDP (5th), and Moustakas infield fly + Lorenzo Cain fly to right (7th). Other than that, he scattered three isolated singles across his other four frames and generally looked far more like the solid starter we've come to expect after the last two seasons.

The story was somewhat different starting the 8th, when Tony Sipp took the mound. On his second pitch, Eric Hosmer singled to right. 7 pitches later, on a full count, Kendrys Morales homered to center, and the Royals earned their only runs of the night. Tony recovered to retire the next three hitters in order (including 1 K), passing the baton to Josh Fields for the 9th.

Following two shaky outings to start the season, Fields has now turned in two solid ones. After Reymond Fuentes popped up to second starting the 9th, Alcides Escobar singled to left. But on a 2-1 curveball, Fields got Moustakas to ground into a 4-6-3 game-ending double play, wrapping up Houston's best overall game of the season so far.

At the Plate:
Jose Altuve finally begins to look like Jose Altuve, turning in his first multi-hit performance of the year, going 3x4 with a walk, 2 SB, a RBI, and 3 runs scored. Jose once again jumped on the opposition's first pitch of the game, an 87-MPH fastball from Chris Young that he lined into left for a single. Carlos Correa (3x5, R, 2 RBI) got the Astros on the board in the 1st with an RBI double, which Colby Rasmus (2x4, R, 2 RBI) soon followed with a 2-run HR to right, for his third homer of the year.

Houston struck again off of Young in the 4th, when a one-out Preston Tucker walk was followed by three straight RBI hits - Luis Valbuena double, Jason Castro triple (his first since 7/12/14), and another Altuve single.

In the 6th, a trio of consecutive singles from Altuve, George Springer, and Correa pushed the Astros lead to 7-0, now with Chien-Ming Wang on the mound. Then after Danny Duffy took over for Wang in the 8th, Altuve walked and Springer tripled, driving Jose home to conclude Houston's scoring.

Other offense of note, your newly crowned AL Player of the Week Tyler White finished 2x4 with a double, lowering his average to .545 and his OPS to 1.668. Because baseball is hard.

Turning Point:
McHugh & the offense were both on from the get-go, so Kansas City never really threatened in this one. Bases loaded with one out in the top of the 7th looked a little iffy, but Houston already led 7-0 by that point, and McHugh escaped unscathed anyway.

Man of the Match:
Collin McHugh. Beautiful redemption from his G2 disaster start.

Goat of the Game:
Carlos Gomez, who went 0x4 with a K and looked even worse by contrast with Tyler White hitting directly ahead of him.

Up Next:
Mike Fiers (0-0, 9.00) v. Kris Medlen (0-0, -.--)

8:10 Eastern, 7:10 Central.