High-flying Dodgers grounded by Lucas Harrell


The Astros won their fourth straight game last night, beating the Dodgers 3-1 in Los Angeles. Astros starting pitcher Lucas Harrell stole the spotlight from reigning Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw with a dominating performance. Harrell took a shutout into the eighth inning before turning the game over to the regulators.

Houston ended Kershaw’s 22 inning scoreless streak with an unearned run in the first inning. Jose Altuve led off with a double down the leftfield line and eventually scored on a throwing error. The Astros were hitting the ball hard all night against the Dodgers left-handed ace. In the fourth inning Jed Lowrie smashed a double high off the wall. J.D. Martinez followed with a homerun and Carlos Lee almost made it back-to-back homers with a flyout to the warning track in left. The homer was the first for Martinez in 106 at-bats. It was also the third straight game in which J.D. drove in what would prove to be the winning run.

Harrell’s performance was just another in a long line of excellent outings by Astros starting pitchers. It was the 38th consecutive game in which the Astros starter pitched at least five innings. Houston has the best overall ERA in the league for the month of May, thanks to some quality work from the regulators as well.

In 7 & 1/3 innings Harrell recorded an incredible 17 groundouts. Harrell allowed only five singles and walked three. He did not strike out a batter but he broke several bats and had the Dodgers hitters talking to themselves on the way back to the dugout. Brad Millshad pitchers warming up in the bullpen in the sixth inning when Harrell got into a little trouble. But, unlike his last outing, Mills decided to give Harrell a chance to work out of the jam. James Loney grounded into a double-play to end the threat and Harrell skipped into the dugout with fists pumping. It was the last of what seemed like fifty weak grounders hit to second-baseman Jose Altuve in the game. In the seventh inning Harrell retired the Dodgers in order on a trio of weak comebackers. He got the first out in the eighth and was removed from the game after allowing a single to Elian Herrera.

Wesley Wright and Wilton Lopez both proved to be ineffective on this night. Wright gave up a walk and a hit without recording an out and Lopez walked the only hitter he faced. Lopez seemed to get squeezed a little by home plate umpire Tim Welke, who was inconsistent all evening. Fernando Abad and Fernando Rodriguez were able to bail out their fellow regulators. The Fernandos combined to finish off the eighth by recording one out apiece. Brett Myers did his usual thing in the ninth, securing the win with his 12th save of the season.