The Astros continued their long-standing tradition of making themselves at home in the Oakland Coliseum, opening this two game set with their tenth straight win. Collin McHugh turned in yet another strong start in his 2019 return to the rotation, recording six shutout innings, which the offense made mostly unnecessary by providing 9 runs of offense.
The Astros were firing on all cylinders tonight. George Springer got things started strong and fast with his twenty-sixth career lead-off home run leaving in a hurry off of starter Marco Estrada, which Jose Altuve followed with a walk. Estrada stymied the bleeding then, but it was really just a sign of things to come.
A Yuli Gurriel single that hugged the third base line to open the second just ended up tripling the lead when Josh Reddick lifted one over the right field fence the next at-bat.
Meanwhile, the A’s notched their own hit to start their half of the second. Unfortunately for them, instead of a follow-up home run, they were on the receiving end of an impressive Carlos Correa-initiated double play (which featured an even-more-impressive Collin McHugh bullet-time dodge).
The fourth inning was when things somehow got even worse for the A’s; Marco Estrada loaded the bases on a walk, a single, and a hit by pitch before George Springer worked him for an RBI walk. Liam Hendriks came in to offer relief in the same sense that a burst pipe relieves pressure from a clog, as Alex Bregman crushed a grand slam to center field.
Things were mostly uneventful from there, with the Astros scoring one more run in the seventh off of a Robinson Chirinos bases-loaded sac fly. Considering the night up until that point, it’s almost a shock they didn’t pick up two or three more. From then on, the Astros played musical defense, with every position player but Max Stassi getting in the game and Josh Reddick even making his debut at first base.
It was an all-around offensive onslaught, with the Astros totaling nine hits, three homers, eight walks, two HBPs, and a sacrifice fly. Seven of the nine players in the starting lineup recorded a hit, and eight of nine reached base. Reddick (three hits), Gurriel (two hits and a walk), Springer (one hit and two walks), and Tyler White (three walks) all reached base three or more times).
Meanwhile, you could argue that this was McHugh’s weakest start of the year, but that’s only because his first three were so darn good. In 6 shutout innings, Collin allowed just two hits and two walks while striking out five on 89 pitches, and lowering his ERA on the season below 2.00 (1.96). Josh James followed things up with 3 Ks in 2 hitless innings (albeit with a walk and hit batter mixed in). Raymin Guduan made things interesting in his first appearance of the 2019 season, loading the bases before allowing a sac fly to end the shutout, but Chris Devenski came in strike out Stephen Piscotty and get Jurickson Profar to pop up.
The win moves Houston to 12-5 on the year, with the last ten of those in a row. Two more and they’ll tie the 2004 team’s franchise record of twelve straight. Wade Miley will pick up the torch, squaring off against Frankie Montas. Combined with the Mariners’ loss to the Indians, it moves the Astros into a half-game lead in the AL West.