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Astros fail to stop Riley, Swanson and drop series opener in Atlanta

Houston falls 6-2 with Kyle Tucker’s solo shot as their only bright spot on Friday night.

MLB: AUG 19 Astros at Braves Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In a World Series 2021 rematch, the Astros dropped the series opener against the Braves with a 6-2 loss. Despite thinking this was gonna be a pitcher’s duel between Lance McCullers Jr. and Kyle Wright, Houston was a victim of Austin Riley and Dansby Swanson’s offense. After scoring 21 runs on Thursday, the ‘Stros looked a bit quieter tonight.

McCullers Jr., in his first career start against Atlanta, hung two zeroes to start the game, but he got in trouble in the third. After one out, the right-hander allowed consecutive singles to Ronald Acuña Jr. and Swanson before Riley swatted a three-run bomb on the first pitch that would have been enough for the Braves. Riley’s 31st homer in 2022 made it 3-0.

The Astros did some damage in the fifth to close the gap with a solo shot from Kyle Tucker (22) and an RBI single by José Altuve to put the Astros closer 3-2. However, in the sixth and with McCullers Jr. gone, the locals ambushed reliever Phil Maton.

Maton, who relieved Lance after five innings of seven hits and three earned runs, kept his struggles going. The Astros’ reliever allowed three hits –including a Swanson two-run double to leave things 5-2— and three earned runs to raise his ERA to 4.47. Over his last 3 2/3 innings (five appearances), Maton has allowed 10 hits and eight earned runs, besides giving up six walks.

Offensively, the Astros were held off by Wright, who went six innings of six-hit, two-run ball. They finished the game 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position and only got two hits (both doubles) after Altuve’s single in the fifth.

Yordan Álvarez had to leave the game because he was feeling ill. According to Dusty Baker after the game, Yordan had “shortness of breath” but, fortunately, was stable and his vital signs are good after being evaluated.

The Astros will get another chance on Saturday when Cristian Javier faces rookie sensation Spencer Strider. There should be plenty of strikeouts this time, buckle up!