We were hoping for a feel-good win tonight with Lance McCullers taking the mound for the first time in 2016. We definitely got what we wanted, but it wasn't what we expected. The Astros young flamethrower couldn't hold down the potent Red Sox lineup that has been on fire of late, scoring 11+ runs in each of their previous 4 games entering tonight. The Astros bats eventually came alive though and the bullpen pitched well enough to secure the win.
The Astros got the scoring started in the first when the walk-off hero of Wednesday's marathon game, Marwin Gonzalez, drove in Altuve with a 2-out single.
McCullers' night got off to a good start with 2 strikeouts in the first, stranding Xander Bogaerts who reached on a 2-out single. The 2nd inning was a different story, however. Hanley Ramirez led off the inning with a single and McCullers walked the next two batters. It was raining throughout most of the game, which likely affected the performances of both pitchers and may have contributed to the walks. With the bases loaded, Ryan Hanigan hit a double which scored two runs to put the Red Sox on top 2-1. Jackie Bradley Jr. followed that with a double of his own to run the score to 3-1. A wild pitch during the next at-bat allowed Hanigan to score and the Red Sox lead grew to 4-1. Mookie Betts then singled to score Jackie Bradley Jr. as the first 6 Red Sox hitters reached base in the 2nd. McCullers then retired Pedroia on a flyout and induced an inning-ending double play from Bogaerts to escape further damage.
The score remained 5-1 through 4 innings until the newly-returned Jason Castro led off the 5th with a double. Jake Marisnick followed with a bunt single and then Altuve singled to score Castro and make it a 5-2 game. Springer drove in Altuve and Marisnick with a double to cut the margin down even further, 5-4. After Correa walked, Rasmus grounded out to first for the first out of the inning, which advanced the runners to second and third. Marwin Gonzalez collected his 2nd RBI of the night on a single to center and the Astros had tied the game. Luis Valbuena popped out and Carlos Gomez struck out to end the inning.
After getting the first two batters out in the bottom half of the inning, McCullers gave up a double to Bogaerts and intentionally walked David Ortiz. Scott Feldman came in to relieve McCullers and got Hanley Ramirez to ground out. McCullers line for the night was 4.2 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 4 SO.
Jason Castro led off the 6th with a single and was driven in by a Springer Dinger to give the Astros a 7-5 lead. Travis Shaw led off the bottom of the inning with a solo shot off Feldman to bring the Red Sox within a run, but that's where the score would remain.
The Astros bullpen had another impressive showing, getting through 4 1/3 innings while only giving up the one run. Sipp, Giles, Harris, and Gregerson all pitched following Feldman's outing. Luke Gregerson earned his 8th save of the season with a 1-2-3 9th, and got back on track after suffering his first blown save Wednesday.
With the win, the Astros are back to 7 games under .500 at 15-22 and have now split the first two of this 4-game series with the Red Sox.
While the Astros record currently stands at 15-22, they are 10-3 when Jason Castro gets a hit. Castro went 2-4 with 2 runs scored tonight.