Dexter Fowler (Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)

Houston Astros Improve Against Tyler Skaggs


The 2014 season is a critical season for the Houston Astros. They are continuing to show improvement in every facet of the game. Tyler Skaggs put a damper on the Roy Oswalt/Lance Berkman retirement ceremony two months ago. With an improved offense this time around the Astros were able to score four times in 5 innings and get to the Angels bullpen early.

Brad Peacock entered the game with a record of 1-4 and a 4.76 ERA. Mike Trout returned to the lineup as the designated hitter and tripled with one out. Albert Pujols had a sac fly to drive him in and the Angels quickly had a 1-0 lead.

But the Astros came out of the gates fighting in their half. Dexter Fowler and Jose Altuve crushed a pair of swinging bunts for base hits. Hey, whatever works! Altuve recorded his 21st stolen base of the season to have runners on 2nd and 3rd with nobody out. George Springer hit a sac fly for his 30th RBI of the season which tied the game at 1 apiece.

Both pitchers settled down pretty nicely after their rocky first innings. But the Astros eventually broke through for a 3-run bottom of the 4th inning. Jon Singleton recorded his 2nd hit of his career. Chris Carter got on base with a walk, one of four in the game for him, and kept his batting average at .198. During that at-bat Singleton had stolen 2nd base as well as advancing to 3rd on a wild pitch by Skaggs. Robbie Grossman, with out, had a successful squeeze bunt to score Singleton to break the 1-1 tie.

The Astros would go on to take a 4-1 lead for the top of the 5th inning. But given a 3 run cushion, Peacock was unable to hold that margin. Two doubles and a single in the inning made it 4-3 Astros. Peacock would conclude his five innings of work with a strikeout of Josh Hamilton.

From that point until the bottom of the 8th both teams were scoreless. Altuve got to the plate with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 6th but struck out to end the inning. Altuve made up for that with a 2-run single which was followed by Springer’s 2-run single  (32nd RBI) to give the Astros an 8-3 lead going into the top of the 9th.

Josh Fields, Darin Downs, Kyle Farnsworth, Paul Clemens, and Chad Qualls pitched well out of the bullpen for the most part. Things got a little dicey when Clemens loaded the bases with none out in the top of the 9th and then walked in a run to make the game 8-4. But Singleton did make a fielding error earlier in the frame.

Chad Qualls relieved Clemens following his bases-loaded walk. Collin Cowgill hit a slow grounder to Altuve for a force out at 2nd and Marwin Gonzalez was unable to complete the double play. That made the game 8-5 with Mike Trout coming to the plate with runners on 1st and 3rd and just one out. Qualls managed to strike out Trout prior to getting a major league fly out from Albert Pujols to end the game.

Tags: Brad Peacock Chad Qualls Chris Carter George Springer Houston Astros Jose Altuve