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Astros Capitalize on Extra Opportunity Early, Cruise to 8-1 Victory

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Astros blast three home runs, McHugh tosses 6 strong innings to split the four-game set with the Red Sox.

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Full disclosure: I neglected my duties as a fan this afternoon, and the early east coast start forced me to miss the first two innings of the game. As karma would have it, I missed all of the fireworks live, but rest assured I'll include all the important details in the recap just like I was there all along. Felt good to get that off my chest. Let's begin.

I picked up Joe Kelly in my fantasy league this week, and thought I would press my luck by keeping him around for his second start of the week against the Astros. That's always an awkward situation for me, and rarely works out in my favor. The trend continued, happy to help out guys.

Most of the day's action came in a somewhat controversial second inning. The Astros' first four batters in the inning would reach base, as Dexter Fowler led off with a single, followed by a Jon Singleton walk, a Carlos Corporan single, and a long single off of the Green Monster off the bat of Marc Krauss to continue moving the runners station to station, bringing Fowler around to score. Matt Dominguez followed with a sac fly to plate Singleton, but Kelly appeared to work out of the jam on a deflected groundball up the middle by Marwin Gonzalez. The ball bounced off of Kelly right to Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts, who casually stepped on second and tossed the ball to first for an easy double play. Fortunately for the Astros, Bogaerts was a little bit too casual on the play, flipping the ball over to first before actually stepping on second. While the vicinity rule / neighborhood play is typically incited on double plays up the middle, the unassisted nature of the play by Bogaerts along with convincing replay footage led to an overturn of the call, leaving runners on 2nd and 3rd with 2 outs. Robbie Grossman followed with a hard fought at bat, walking on 9 pitches, and Jose Altuve made the Red Sox pay dearly by smacking his first career grand slam to left to put the Astros on top 6-0 before Kelly knew what had hit him. Sox skipper John Farrell was none too pleased with the call when it was made and was tossed following the home run as he really poured it onto the umpire crew.

Fowler would lead off the third inning as well, this time wasting no time for any drama. He turned on an 0-1 fastball for a home run over the visiting bullpen in right field. Laugh at Dexter Fowler in the cleanup spot, world. I dare you. Collin McHugh wasn't particularly sharp at times today, but the only damage the Red Sox did came on a Daniel Nava RBI double in the 3rd, following a leadoff walk to BROCK HOLT! The right hander wouldn't allow the weekend trend of coughing up a nice lead to continue, limiting the Sox to the lone run in 6 IP, allowing 7 hits and 4 walks against 6 strikeouts.

The bullpen would carry the load the rest of the way, with Tony Sipp, Mike Foltynewicz, and Chad Qualls closing the door with 3 innings of 1 hit ball. Clearly inspired by Bo Porter's advice to watch David Ortiz at the plate, Singleton took knuckleballer Steven Wright way out to on a bomb to right field in the top of the 9th. Big Jon's bat flip game remains on point despite his streaky results at the plate.

Highlights

  • Jose Altuve is really good at baseball. 4-5 with 3 singles and the big grand slam to bring his average to .339 on the season and his league-leading hits total up to 173.
  • Singleton was 1-3 with 2 BB, 2 R, and an RBI
  • Fowler went 2-4 with a BB, 2 R, and 1 RBI on the solo HR. In today's episode of stating the obvious, it's nice to have him back in the lineup.
  • McHugh avoided any serious damage by holding the Red Sox to 0-7 with RISP
  • The Astros have now officially surpassed last season's win total, by winning their 52nd game of the season with 37 games left on the schedule. 65-70 wins is not out of the question. Nothing to be too excited about typically, but that would represent a pretty big jump in the direction the team is headed in. 2017 here we come.
  • The Astros honored longtime minor league coach and scout Gordy MacKenzie, who passed away on Tuesday, by wearing high socks. All Astros minor league affiliates did the same on Friday. Good look for a good cause.