The Astros snapped a 5-game losing streak Friday night with a 3-2 win over the Cleveland Indians. Lucas Harrell pitched 5 & 2/3 innings and picked up his first win of the season.
Harrell struggled with his control a bit, issuing five walks and throwing only half of his 98 pitches for strikes. But the ground ball pitcher coaxed a pair of double-play balls to help himself out of a couple of jams in the early innings. Cleveland batters also had five hits against Harrell, generating plenty of traffic on the base paths. But the Tribe continued to struggle hitting with runners in scoring position.
All of the scoring in this game came on homeruns. J.D. Martinez and Rick Ankiel provided back-to-back blasts off Brett Myers in the second inning. The former Astro has now allowed a league high 10 longballs on the season. Jason Kipnis accounted for the Indians only runs with a 2-run shot off Harrell in the fourth.
Martinez had to leave the game in the bottom of the fourth when he twisted his knee during an at-bat. The Astros outfielder is listed as day-to-day. Martinez said he experienced a similar injury a couple of times in college. J.D. went on to explain that the knee took three weeks to heal the first time he injured it, and only a week the second time around. Bo Porter said Martinez will be reevaluated today.
Besides the back-to-back jacks, the feel good story of this game was the performance by the Astros bullpen. Working a man short, after waiving Xavier Cedeno, the ‘pen came through with 3 & 1/3 scoreless innings to preserve a 1-run lead. It was, without question, their best performance of the year. It was also the first time the Astros were able to win a close game.
Wesley Wright got Lonnie Chisenhall on a grounder for the last out of the sixth inning. Wright stayed in for the seventh and gave up a 2-out hit but finished off the frame by fanning Asdrubal Cabrera.
Hector Ambriz came in to pitch the eighth and gave up a leadoff double to Nick Swisher. After a 1-out walk to Carlos Santana it was starting to look like the same old Astros bullpen we’ve been seeing this season. But Ambriz turned a double play on a comebacker off the bat of Mark Reynolds to get out of the jam. Jose Veras finished off the Indians in the ninth to earn his first save as an Astro.
The win gives Houston a record of 5-11 for the season. Cleveland is now 5-10. Game 2 of the series will be at 6:10 tonight and a pair of native Houstonians will be on the mound. Philip Humber pitches for the Astros and Scott Kazmir will be making his Indians debut.