Even the backend of the Astros’ starting rotation overpowers the American League.
Tonight, Luis Garcia and Hunter Brown combined for an eight-inning, tandem-start shutout of likely playoff-bound Tampa Bay Rays. The 4-0 victory clinched the AL West for the Astros for the fifth time in six years.
The Astros struck first, with yes, you guessed it, yet another leadoff homer by Jose Altuve. (How does he do it in visiting ballparks? Amazing.)
Then the game settled into a pitcher’s duel until the sixth. Astros starter Luis Garcia held the Rays scoreless through the fifth inning. He allowed only two hits but also four walks with four strikeouts. He stranded runners on third in the second and fourth innings but escaped unscathed.
Meanwhile, after the Altuve home run in the first, Rays starter Drew Rasmussen held the Astros scoreless until the sixth inning.
In the sixth, Altuve started it off again, this time with a single, followed by a Jeremy Pena walk. Yordan Alvarez singled home Altuve, and Alex Bregman followed with a two-RBI double for the third run of the inning, giving the Astros a 4-0 lead.
We have once again doubled the lead. pic.twitter.com/XFsQejK5Ed— Houston Astros (@astros) September 20, 2022
From the sixth through eighth innings, Astros rookie phenom Hunter Brown took over for Garica with three scoreless innings of his own, allowing two hits, a walk, with three strikeouts. He lowered his season ERA to 1.20
Hector Neris closed out the shutout, sealing the Astros’ 4-0 win, another division championship, and the team’s sixth straight trip to the playoffs.
Tomorrow, the Stros and Rays go again at 5:40 CT. Cristian Javier takes on Cy Young contender Shane McClanahan.