Collin McHugh entered Tuesday's start against the Oakland Athletics with a 6.15 ERA in five August starts. He hadn't allowed fewer than three runs since July 23.
While the Athletics won't be mistaken with Murderer's Row any time soon, McHugh came through with an encouraging outing as the Astros clinched a fourth straight series victory with a 3-1 victory over the Oakland Athletics. Houston has won 9-of-11 games since a five-game losing streak appeared to have ended the team's playoff hopes.
McHugh's pitching line looked dominant, but he needed 102 pitches to work his way through six innings. Nevertheless, McHugh allowed just four hits and a walk while striking out five batters. Will Harris followed with an easy seventh inning, including two strikeouts.
The first two batters reached in the eighth against Luke Gregerson despite the ball not leaving the infield. After a wild pitch put two runners in scoring position with nobody out, Gregerson protected a three-run lead beautifully by inducing a pair of ground outs around a strikeout.
Meanwhile, welcome back Colby Rasmus! In his first at-bat after being activated off the disabled list this afternoon, Colby went deep with a solo homer. Prior to that, Rasmus threw out Ryon Healy, who was trying to tag and score from third to end the top of the second inning.
The Astros scratched a run across in the third as well as George Springer walked with two outs, stole second and advanced to third when the throw got away at second base. Alex Bregman then put together arguably the best at-bat of the night, lacing a 3-2 pitch to left-center field for an RBI hit. It was Bregman's only hit of the night, but he stung two balls to right as well. He looks good, friends.
Highlight of the night, however, goes to Evan Gattis, who annihilated a Kendall Graveman fastball in the bottom of the seventh inning for a solo homer. Gattis knew it was gone immediately and barked with satisfaction towards the Astros dugout after giving his squad a 3-0 lead.
As already mentioned, Harris and Gregerson were solid. Then in the ninth, Ken Giles had no problem retiring the side for his sixth save. If there was ever a way it was dreamed up this past offseason as far as innings 7-8-9 goes for the Astros' bullpen, Tuesday night was it . It appears all three have hit their stride at the right time.
Maybe the Astros have hit their stride too. A sweep sure would feel nice on Wednesday as Houston sends Mike Fiers to the hill against Oakland's Ross Detwiler (I didn't know he was back in the big leagues, either).