In his first major league start, Paul Clemens pitched six innings while giving up just one run only to see the offense let him down and the bullpen blow the lead. Today, Clemens has no one to blame but himself for his fate as the Astros lost 10-6 in the series opener against the Minnesota Twins.
After seeing their bats scuffle through the four game series with the Seattle Mariners, the Astros put up 13 hits and six runs this afternoon. They wasted no time putting runs on the board as they gave Clemens a 3-0 lead after the first inning and 5-1 lead after the second. The problem though is that Clemens could not make that lead hold up and Minnesota held the Astros scoreless after third inning.
The Astros put up 13 hits today and they were a respectable 8-15 with runners in scoring position, but they also left seven men on base and you would like to see them score more than six runs with all those baserunners.
Prior to leaving the game due to a sprained knee, Jason Castro left his mark on the contest. After Robbie Grossman doubled to start the game and Jose Altuve reached via a bunt single, Castro drove in the first run for Houston. Chris Carter and September addition Trevor Crowe each followed with RBI singles, and the Astros were in business. Prior to the game, Bo Porter shifted the batting order around slightly moving Altuve back to the second spot, Castro up to third, and L.J. Hoes down to eighth. After the first inning, it appeared to have worked.
Following a perfect first inning, Clemens gave one run back on a Trevor Plouffe home run in the top of the second, but Castro and Carter struck again in the bottom of the inning to put the Astros ahead 5-1. Castro singled in Grossman for the second time on the day, and Carter’s double scored Altuve.
A Darin Mastroianni double and an RBI single from Altuve brought the score to 6-2 after three innings, and it looked like the game was relatively secure. But Clemens just didn’t have it, and was not able to get out of the fourth inning.
After giving up another home run, this time to Chris Colabello, along with an RBI single (after a throwing error by Brandon Barnes), Clemens’ afternoon was done after 3.2 innings, seven hits, and four runs, three of which were earned. Lucas Harrell came in to relieve Clemens, and actually got out of the fourth inning unscathed.
The fifth inning brought on some drama for Harrell, but other than a Brian Dozier solo home run, he managed to keep the Twins off the scoreboard. But if it were not for an exciting double play where the Astros were alert and hit the cut off man, the inning could have been a lot worse.
Minnesota then tied the game in the eighth inning and Colabello hit a game winning grand slam off Chia-Jen Lo who just had a disaster of a ninth inning.
All told, the Astros pitchers allowed nine walks and the offense only managed two hits and a walk in the final six innings. That is not a recipe for victory.