This matchup between one of the National League’s top hurlers, Walker Buehler, and the Astros’ best starter, Lance McCullers, promised to be a pitcher’s duel.
Both pitchers lived up to billing.
McCullers just a little bit more.
Lance pitched 6.2 innings of scoreless baseball against a stacked Dodgers lineup. He allowed only four hits, three walks while fanning nine.
Buehler, on the other hand, went six complete, allowing just one run on five hits, three walks, with five strikeouts.
But McCullers got a big assist from a name we haven’t associated with saving the bacon very often this year, Blake Taylor. After McCullers walked Mookie Betts to put runners on first and second with two outs in the seventh, Taylor was brought in to face lefty Max Muncy. Taylor fulfilled expectations on the first three pitches, all balls.
Muncy took a big swing and miss on 3-0, and then just kept swinging, fouling off the next four, balls mostly out of the zone. Finally, Taylor unleashed a big slider, way outside, but Muncy chased, ending the threat, and preserving a one-run lead.
The Astros scored their first run in the third on doubles by Martin Maldonado and Michael Brantly, playing on a sore ankle.
The Astros got needed insurance in the eighth when Yordan Alvarez hit a 115 MPH line drive over the fence in right field to complete the game’s scoring at 3-0.
With Ryan Pressly on paternity leave, the closing duties went to Ryne Stanek, whose 1-2-3 inning closed out the ninth.
One of the new Astros, Kendall Graveman had a scoreless eighth, pitching around two baserunners.
Here’s Graveman getting it done to end the inning.
The difference in this game came down to two things. The Dodgers were 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position, the Astros made 1 in 9 chances. That Brantley double alone would have won the game.
And of course, the Alvarez homer, his 20th, for good measure.
Box Score and video HERE.