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Hitless Wonders: Houston Wins Sixth in a Row

Despite getting outhit 11-to-four, the Astros defeated Detroit.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Houston Astros Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday at 3:07PM CST, the Houston Astros played home ball in the third game of their four-game set against the invading Detroit Tigers.

Framber Valdez (1-2, 3.42) was slated for his turn in the rotation. The Astros haven’t fared well in his starts, losing his last four after his season opening gem against the Angels. In spite of a better-than-league WHIP of 1.215 and an opposing batting average of .194, Valdez struggles with the free pass, walking 4.8 per nine innings, worst amongst Astros starters.

Valdez faces lefty Eduardo Rodriguez (0-2, 5.33), who doesn’t walk as many, but allows more hits for a 1.303 WHIP. For more on the Tigers, check out our Q&A with Bless You Boys.

My apologies in advance for those of you who don’t appreciate a linear narrative in your recaps, as I write while the game is ongoing. I do this for a variety of reasons, but the main one is so that I can publish right away. I do that so that y’all can hijack the comment section with your own $.02 while the game is still fresh on your minds. But enough about me, let’s talk Astros.

Box Score

Derek Hill and Javier Báez opened against Valdez with back-to-back singles. The Tigers had equaled their previous games hit output on the first three pitches of the game. With nobody out, Valdez then induced a 6-4-3 double play from Robbie Grossman. He followed by neatly getting Miguel Cabrera on a 5-3 groundout. Houston went 1-2-3 on only 11 pitches in their half of the frame.

Jeimer Candelario led off the second for the Tigers with another infield single. After striking out Jonathan Schoop swinging at a 79MPH curveball, he repeated the feat on three curveballs to Willi Castro. Spencer Torkelson then singled into right field on a grounder through the hole to put runners on the corners. Valdez again escaped two baserunners by finishing the trifecta and getting Tucker Barnhart to swing at a full count curve. Kyle Tucker drew a full count two-out walk for Houston’s first baserunner of the game, but Jeremy Peña struck out on a high heater to strand him there.

Hill got his second hit of the night by singling through the right side to lead off the third for Detroit, but he was erased on a Báez comebacker, 1-4. Grossman then blooped a hit into center field to again put runners on the corners. Cabrera followed with his 600th career double to get the Tigers on the board first.

Both runners came in to score for an early 2-0 Detroit lead. Candelario grounded out to short, holding Cabrera in place, then Schoop hit into a 1-2-3 ground out, lining one off the glove of Valdez. Houston’s half of the third would open with consecutive strikeouts by Chas McCormick and Martin Maldonado. Jose Altuve ruined Rodriguez’ scoreless no-hit bit with a 386-ft solo shot to left-center, his fourth of the season. Michael Brantley grounded out to first to end the frame.

End 3: Detroit Tigers 2, Houston Astros 1

For the fourth time in the first four innings, the Tigers led off with a base-hit, this time a Castro double into right field. Fortunately, he remained there through the remainder of the inning, as Torkelson and Barnhart struck out, followed by Hill grounding out 6-3. The Astros managed to get a runner on in their half of the inning, with a one-out walk by Yordan Alvarez, but he didn’t make it to second.

The Tigers again led off the inning with a hit, this time a double by Baez. He moved to third on a Grossman groundout, but was stranded there as Valdez struck out Cabrera and Candelario to keep the Astros within one run. Houston couldn’t make anything happen in their half of the fifth.

The sixth inning would see Valdez retire the first two batters before allowing a baserunner, a walk to Torkelson. He didn’t stand on first very long, getting stranded on the very next pitch on a 5-3 groundout. Quality Start in hand, Valdez was still the pitcher of record when the Astros followed the Tigers in scoreless fashion to close the frame. He gave up two earned runs on nine hits and one walk, striking out seven and getting 67-of-96 pitches in the strike zone. Speaking of that, the Astros rank second in the majors with 13 Quality Starts for 2022.

End 6: Detroit Tigers 2, Houston Astros 1

Ryne Stanek, or as I like to call him, the only Astros pitcher to walk more batters than Valdez (per nine), opened the seventh by surrendering a leadoff infield single to Hill. After getting Báez to swing over a low splitter for strike three, he walked Grossman on a full count. Table set for Cabrera, Stanek induced a first pitch 6-4-3 double play to get out clean. Rodriguez continued to pitch for Detroit after the stretch, and collected a pair of outs before walking Tucker.

Michael Fulmer entered to try and retire Peña, but Peña hit one right up the middle for an infield single and Houston’s second hit of the contest. Unfortunately, the rally was killed a moment later when McCormick flew out weakly to right field.

Bryan Abreu got the ball for the eighth inning, and Candelerio opened against him with a single to left. Candy took second on a poor effort error on Alvarez. A Schoop lineout to Abreu was followed by Castro looking at a 99.3mph fastball for strike three. Torkelson then drilled one straight at first base for an easy out.

The bottom of the set opened with an Aledmys Diaz first pitch pinch-hit pop out (say that six times fast). Altuve followed him by collecting Houston’s third hit of the night (and his second), a single up the middle. With the infield pulled hard to right, Brantley tripled Altuve home with the game-tying run. Bregman grounded out on the next pitch, on which the Tigers managed to keep Brantley at third. Alvarez then took first on an intentional walk, as the Tigers preferred to pitch to Gurriel.

Gurriel drew an unintentional walk on four pitches to load the bases for Tucker, who drew a bases-loaded walk for the go-ahead run. Damage already done, the Tigers brought Alex Lange on to finish up the inning with a four-pitch K of Peña.

For top nine, Houston brought in Ryan Pressly for a save attempt. He got Barnhart to ground out to third, Hill to fly out deep to right on one pitch, and Báez to strike out swinging to end the contest. Six straight, the Astros aim for the sweep tomorrow.

End 9: Houston Astros 3, Detroit Tigers 2

Heroes and Zeroes (by WPA)

Michael Brantley (HOU) +.407
Eduardo Rodriguez (DET) +.297
Kyle Tucker (HOU) +.270

Tucker Barnhart (DET) -.174
Alex Bregman (HOU) -.209
Michael Fulmer (DET) -.568

Good points from the GameThread

ATC2017: We have 2 catchers who aren’t even hitting .100

Kori Jenkins: This team’s inability to get hits off garbage pitching should truly be studied. You can basically field a team of nobodies who have never held a baseball and they’d combine for a perfect game I swear.

SlippinJimmy’: Yuli is just brutal at the plate. 25 games and not one homerun playing in MMP? Not good.

RelocatedAstro: If you swing at some shit outta the zone right now, you’ve gotta be outta your DAMN mind

Keep tuned in for tomorrow’s matchup. Jake Odorizzi (2-2, 4.15) is set to go with the first pitch set for 1:10PM.