The Astros have struggled on the offensive side of the ball in the month of August. Coming into the final game of the series with Tampa Bay the team had a .232/.303/.392 battling line, while scoring only 3.7 runs per game. With Chris Archer, the Rays ace, on the mound it seemed destined to be a tough day for the bats. Unfortunately for the Astros and Colin McHugh that is exactly how things played out, as Archer pitched a complete game one hitter.
McHugh was the tough luck loser, as his offense couldn’t muster any run support. McHugh did all he could to keep the Astros in it going seven innings and allowing one run.
McHugh quickly got through the first and second inning, retiring the first six batters he faced. To open the third inning Desmond Jennings singled followed by a Kevin Kiermaier walk to present the first real threat of the night. After the Rays bunted the runners over, McHugh got John Jason to pop up in foul territory. A Grady Sizemore walk would then load the bases with Evan Longoria stepping to the plate. McHugh managed to escape the inning unscathed though on a LONG fly ball by Evan Longoria caught by Preston Tucker standing against the wall in left field.
McHugh opened the fourth inning in style by making a behind the back grab before casually throwing the ball over to first to get the out. Things got a little rougher from there though as Forsythe singled through the left side, advanced to second on a wild pitch and came around to score on a Jennings single giving the Rays a 1-0 lead. Out number three presented an injury scare, as McHugh rolled his ankle, but still managed to get the ball across the plate and force weak contact right back to the mound. McHugh made the play and seemed fine, as he would come back to pitch three more shutout innings.
Tony Sipp and Chad Quals would continue what has been a very strong run from the bullpen by pitching a scoreless eighth and ninth inning respectively. Sipp got into a little trouble allowing a couple of base runners, but battled back to strike out a couple of Rays and get out of trouble. Quals would also allow a base runner, but managed to still pitch a 1-2-3 inning behind a nice throw by Jason Castro to catch Kiermaier trying to steal.
At the end of the day the strong pitching performance by McHugh and the bullpen just wasn’t enough. The Astros bats just could not find an answer for Archer, who pitched his first complete game of the year giving up one hit and one walk while racking up eleven strikeouts.
The Astros will look to bounce back and get the bats going tomorrow as the Los Angeles Dodgers come to town. Mike Fiers will take the mound for the Astros looking for his first win in an Astros uniform. The Dodgers will counter with Brett Anderson. Picking up the win tomorrow will be important if the Astros want to win the series, as they will face Zach Greinke and Clayton Kershaw in the final two games of the series.