Slumps are always harder to take at the beginning of the season. That’s because you don’t really know if it’s a slump or a harbinger of the new normal to come.
But for now, the Astros are 2-4 for the year, and the mainstay of last year’s championship run, the pitching, is so far showing severe regression.
The Tigers got on the board early with a run in the first thanks to a Spencer Torkelson double off the wall in left, scoring Javier Baez. But the Astros answered in the bottom of the inning after a walk to Alex Bregman, a single by Jose Abreu, and an RBI single by Kyle Tucker.
Tuck ties it. pic.twitter.com/ukIXCsUDxB— Houston Astros (@astros) April 5, 2023
An excellent defensive play in the third prevented the Tigers from going ahead. After a Riley Greene single, Matt Vierling tested the arm of Yordan Alvarez, who threw a strike to home that met Vierling an inch in front of home base for the third out.
Got 'em. pic.twitter.com/Q52qVUu8M4— Houston Astros (@astros) April 5, 2023
The Astros took the lead in the fourth with a Kyle Tucker solo homer.
Sent that one to his Kingdom. pic.twitter.com/tC0jNX63of— Houston Astros (@astros) April 5, 2023
The Tigers tied the score in the fifth inning when Jonathon Shoop got to second after a single and a wild pitch and scored on a Jake Rogers single (Rogers went to the Tigers in the Justin Verlander trade).
Alex Bregman believed he had an answer in the bottom of the fifth when it seemed his fly ball to left hit the top of the left field wall for a homer. Instead, it hit an inch below the top of the wall, and Bregman got thrown out at second base.
The Tigers took the lead in the sixth inning on two singles, a passed ball, and an RBI fielder’s choice.
The Tigers took a commanding 5-2 lead in the eighth on a two-run homer by Torkelson to deep left-center field off reliever Ryne Stanek.
In the ninth, the Tigers added insurance on an RBI double by Matt Vierling off Seth Martinez.
The Astros did add one more run in the ninth on a fielder’s choice by Martin Maldonado but ended the game on a Jeremy Pena groundout. Pena has replaced Bregman as the iceman in the Astros lineup.
Although the Astros managed ten hits, Tucker’s homer was the only extra-base hit, and two of the Astros’ hits were erased by baserunning errors. The Tigers accumulated 18 total bases.
Framber Valdez finally broke the Astros’ quality-start barrier, going seven innings, allowing three runs, eight hits, a walk, with nine strikeouts. The bullpen failed to keep it close, and it can’t be said that either Stanek or Martinez came into the game tired.
The Astros look tired. Maybe starting the season with a slump is better than ending it in one.
Early game tomorrow. 1:10 CT. Cristian Javier hopes to be the stopper.