The Astros came into Thursday night with a chance to sweep their first series of the season, and also to finish with a winning record on this seven game road trip. The only problem was they had to go through Chris Sale to accomplish those milestones.
Collin McHugh was on the hill for Houston, and pitched one of his best games so far in 2016. Over seven innings he only gave up five hits and two runs, while striking out eight and walking one. He got some early help from George Springer in the first inning, as George went up and robbed Jose Abreu of a home run on a high-difficulty catch. (In my opinion the best play he has made since stealing the grand slam last season in Arlington.)
The ChiSox tagged McHugh with a run in the second inning. After a leadoff infield single by Todd Frazier, he got two outs and looked like he was going to get out of the inning with no damage. But after a stolen base by Frazier, Jerry Sands singled on a 3-2 pitch to drive home the first run.
Collin did not give up another run until the seventh inning. Jimmy Rollins led off the inning with another infield single. He went to third base on a Sands single, and scored on a sacrifice fly to make the score 2-0.
In the meantime, Chris Sale was cruising. The only blemishes through the first seven innings were a second inning single by recently called up catcher Evan Gattis, and a sixth inning single by Jose Altuve. The Astros finally got on the board in the eighth when Gattis drove a home run to left-center to cut the lead in half, but the team wouldn't do any more damage to the lefty, save a one-out single by Springer in the ninth inning. Sale ended up with the complete game, giving up the four hits mentioned and walking none, while striking out nine.
The Astros head back home tonight to start a series this weekend versus the Rangers. Lance McCullers makes his second start of the season Friday night at Minute Maid Park against Colby Lewis. A good time will be had by all, and maybe we'll see an instigating bat flip or two...
This was Gattis' first major league game behind the dish since 2014.
Springer's ninth inning single gives him an eight game hitting streak.
Altuve's single in the sixth inning extended his hitting streak to 11 games.