Vincent Velasquez pitched six strong innings tonight, earning his first major league victory in an 8-3 win over the Red Sox. The Astros continued their terrific play at Minute Maid Park, where they are now fourteen games over .500 on the year.
Velasquez had a rough second inning, but outside of that it was another impressive outing for the rookie righthander. He struck out seven batters over his six innings, mixing his fastball effectively with his slider.
The offense backed him with eight runs on nine hits. Jose Altuve led the attack, going 2-3 with two walks, a stolen base, two runs scored and an RBI.
The Astros scored four times in the decisive fifth inning when they took the lead for good. Back to back singles from Chris Carter and L.J. Hoes started the inning. A Jake Marisnick grounder forced Hoes at second, but Marisnick managed to beat out the relay to first. His presence at first seemed to unnerve Red Sox rookie starter Brian Johnson, who made several weak pick-off attempts.
On Johnson's first pitch home, Marisnick stole second base, and the throw skipped into centerfield. Carter scored easily from third, and Marisnick kept running all the way home. Third base coach Gary Pettis has run guys into outs on occasion, but the aggressiveness here paid off.
The Astros cruised after taking the lead, adding more runs on a Chris Carter two run homer in the sixth. That was more than enough for Velasquez and the bullpen, who closed out the game with no runs allowed.