Well we are down to the last homestand of the year, and for the first time in a while, I am not dreading and ignoring the final 2 weeks. A big part of the improvement this season is the fact that they have won 11 more games at home in 2014.
The Astros have done a great job playing spoiler this last month, and I hope they continue that tonight. The "rookie who does not seem like a rookie" Collin McHugh gets the nod tonight. September has been a good month so far for McHugh. He has had 2 starts, and has pitched a total of 15 2/3 innings, giving up 6 hits and 2 runs, striking out 12 and walking zero. ZERO!
It didn't start so good. First batter Michael Bourn hit a grounder to second, and Krauss missed an easy throw. After a sac bunt, Bourn scored the first run on a bloop single by Carlos Santana. After that, McHugh had a typical McHugh outing. Over a total of 6 2/3 innings, he scattered 5 hits, struck out 7, and once again walked nobody. He came out in the 7th after being hit on the inside of his left forearm with a line drive. Even though he was in obvious pain, he still got the out at first. We should all wish we were that much of a man.
At the plate, the Astros took the lead in the bottom of the 3rd. Gregorio Petit started the inning with a single. Robbie Grossman followed with a double to put runners at 2nd and 3rd. Jose Altuve delivered a 2-run single right back through the legs of pitcher Zach McAllister. That was hit number 207 on the year for Altuve. He also picked up hit 208 (a 2-out single) in the 5th inning. He started off the bottom of the 8th with hit number 209, a triple just inside the right field line. An insurance run was added when Dexter Fowler hit a sacrifice fly to center to make the score 3-1.
Chad Qualls came in to close out the game. Not to be out-manned by McHugh, he made one awesome play where he stopped the ball with his pitching hand to get the second out. That summoned the manager and Mr. Moustache to make sure he was not hurt. He stayed in the game (and thus won the man-off), and picked up his 18th save of the year. Nice comeback after his last outing against Oakland. McHugh picked up his 10th win of the season.
Jose Altuve got to hit number 209, one away from the Astros record held by Craig Biggio. He is just a good hitter, period. See ball...hit ball. Since taking an 0-fer in 2 consecutive games in Seattle, he has had 5 straight multi-hit games, going 11-21 in that stretch.
The last time Collin McHugh walked a batter was in the 3rd inning against Cleveland...on August 23rd! In that same time frame he has only allowed 6 earned runs, and has struck out 27. (He also had his 9th straight start with less than 2 earned runs allowed...first pitcher since Mike Scott to do that.)
Speaking of walks, there were no walks by either team in the game.
Altuve wasn't the only player with a multi-hit game tonight. Jason Castro went 2-3, and Gregorio Petit also went 2-3, raising his average to .292.