Alex Bregman gave Astros fans a gift on HIS birthday tonight, a first inning home run, his only hit of the season. Unfortunately, the rest of the Astros’ bats remained in a penurious mood, managing only seven singles after that, and getting only three runners into scoring position.
There was good news if you take the long view. With a revamped rotation for 2019, there are questions about starters 3-5 in the new rotation. Tonight, when the roll call went out for third starter, Collin McHugh emphatically replied: “all present and accounted for here, sir.”
McHugh held the Rays hitless for four innings, relying to an unusual degree on breaking balls, throwing only 16 fastballs out of 81 pitches thrown. He had 56 strikes, 16 swinging, 8 from his slider, which he threw 33 times. Many a Rays batter looked utterly baffled tonight. He struck out nine in five innings, and allowed only three hits and one walk.
Collin McHugh, Wicked 79mph Slider.— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) March 30, 2019
And takes the lead in the Worst K Strut of the Year Category. pic.twitter.com/7RzgSbj5o9
Collin McHugh was the losing pitcher.
In his first start and after missing much of Spring Training, McHugh grew tired in the fifth and allowed the Rays to bunch three hits resulting in two runs. Even then, only one of those hits was well hit, in a game without even one barreled ball. Yandy Diaz led off the inning with a double just past Yuli Gurriel at third, hit at 68.9 MPH. After McHugh got a ground out and a strike out, Kevin Keirmaier hit a double off the right field wall to score Diaz. Michael Perez then scored Keirmaier on a soft line drive in front of Josh Reddick in right.
The Astros mounted a serious challenge in the eighth but it was aborted by the BABIP dragon. With one out, Jose Altuve laid a crafty bunt down the third base line for a single, and advanced with two outs on a Michael Brantley single to left field. After a Yuli Gurriel walk (yeah, that seems to be a new trend) loaded the bases with two outs, Josh Reddick smacked a solid line drive to right field, which Statcast says had an expected batting average of .830. No luck tonight, as Avisail Garcia was properly positioned to make the third out.
Will Harris had a scoreless sixth inning, and Chris Devenski finished the last two innings, allowing a run in the bottom of the eighth. According to Statcast he has a new arsenal, adding a curve and two-seamer to his usual repertoire of four-seamer, slider and change-up.
The Astros submitted quietly in the ninth, managing only eight hits for the night, and 14 for the last two games. Starter Tyler Glasnow was the winning pitcher for the Rays.
Michael Brantley is bucking the Astros hitting slump. He is batting .417 after 3 games with a 1.167 OPS.
The Rays and Astros finish the series tomorrow at 12:10 CDT. This is the first time since June 20th, 2016 that the Astros have had a record below .500.
Box Score and videos HERE.
Which starter has looked best in the first three Astros games?
This poll is closed
Justin Verlander, 7 IP, 3 hits 1 ER 9 K’s
Gerrit Cole, 6 IP, 5 hits 4 runs, 1 ER, 10 K’s
Collin McHugh, 5 IP, 3 hits, 2 ER, 9 K’s