To say the Astros starting pitchers have had a rough week would be a tremendous understatement. Tonight, Philip Humber became the third Astros starter this week to give up at least six runs without even finishing the first inning. Humber outdid both Erik Bedard and Bud Norris (who each gave up six runs) by allowing eight quick runs to the Indians.
After retiring leadoff hitter Michael Brantley on a fly ball to deep left-center, Humber allowed nine consecutive Cleveland hitters to reach base. Bo Porter then made that all too familiar walk to the mound and took the ball out of Humber’s hand. Dallas Keuchel came in and retired the next two hitters to stop the bleeding… at least temporarily.
Nick Swisher (Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports)
Keuchel ran into trouble of his own in the second. Nick Swisher singled to center to lead off the frame and Jason Giambi drew a walk. With the triple-play now in order, Keuchel kept tossing slow breaking pitches to Carlos Santana in hopes of getting a grounder to third baseman Matt Dominguez. Santana hit a couple of slow rollers in the direction of Dominguez but just outside the bag. Carlos finally obliged with a bouncer right at Dominguez, but the ball clanked off the third-baseman’s glove and all runners were safe. The Indians got their hit parade going again and scored six times in the inning — with an assist from Carlos Corporan‘s throwing error.
A Brandon Barnes homer in the bottom of the second cut the Indians lead to 14-3 but this one was already over. Brandon Laird, making his first start since being recalled from AAA Oklahoma City, added a solo shot in the third and Ronny Cedeno drove in two more to make it 15-6. That was as close as the Astros would get. Cedeno’s single chased Scott Kazmir from the game and the Astros wouldn’t fare as well against the Cleveland bullpen.
Left-hander Travis Blackley made his Astros debut, albeit an inauspicious one. Blackley gave up tree runs on three hits and a pair of walks in the fourth inning. Rhiner Cruz followed Blackley to the mound and was only slightly more effective. The only solid pitching performance turned in by an Astro was that of Paul Clemens. The rookie right-hander tossed 3 & 1/3 scoreless innings to keep the Indians from reaching the twenties. Perhaps the Indians hitters were already thinking about their post-game meal instead of concentrating on hitting in such a lopsided game. Either way, it’s still a confidence builder for Clemens.
Final score: Cleveland 19 Houston 6. Nick Swisher had four hits for the Tribe, including three doubles. The Astros will try to regroup and salvage the series tomorrow at 1:10.