Jarred Cosart (Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)
Another day and another victory. I think everyone can get used to this. Once again the Houston Astros got off to an early start, and they didn’t let up as they defeated the New York Yankees 3-1 as they improved to 2-0. This is the first time the Astros started the season with consecutive victories since 2003.
If Dexter Fowler keeps this up, Jeff Luhnow is going to have to offer the centerfielder a contract extension pronto. Tonight Fowler didn’t waste anytime as he blasted a Hiroki Kuroda pitch over the right-center field wall to lead off the game. Fowler then followed that up with a triple in his next at bat and was promptly driven in by a Robbie Grossman ground out.
Just like last night, the Astros scored early, and then their bats went dormant. Aside from Fowler’s two extra base hits, Kuroda allowed just one walk prior to Grossman’s sixth inning triple which did not yield a run.
Although it is a trend that needs to be reversed as the season goes on, once again tonight it did not matter. Jarred Cosart made his 2014 debut and picked up right where he left off last season. After Cosart’s five scoreless innings, the bullpen then provided four innings of actual relief allowing just one run. This is something that simply did not happen last season.
Had this not been his first start of the season, Cosart would have likely pitched at least one more inning. The fact that the right-hander also allowed two fifth inning singles, although he did get out of the jam unscathed, also contributed to Bo Porter removing him after five innings and 88 pitches.
In watching Cosart’s performance, there were two things that stood out. Cosart allowed four hits, and struck out three Yankees, but he did not walk a batter. Also, Cosart looked more comfortable using his breaking ball in various counts than he did last season, and this was something that Porter noted in his press conference.
Jerome Williams made his Astros’ debut, and turned in a scoreless sixth inning although he did give fans a flashback to 2013 allowing a hit and walk while striking out two batters.
Kevin Chapman took over the following inning and once again had control problems as he walked Brett Gardner to start the inning. A Brian Roberts single and Yangervis Solarte double play later, and the Yankees were on the board. Chapman then walked Jacoby Ellsbury before giving way to Matt Albers who was also pitching on consecutive nights.
Matt Dominguez then got that run back with a solo home run in the bottom of the inning. Houston did load the bases the next inning but came up empty as Carlos Corporan, pinch hitting for Chris Carter, grounded out to the pitcher to end the inning.
Albers once again proved his value by striking out Derek Jeter to end the seventh inning and then pitched a scoreless eighth. The problem though, is that with Porter only having one left-hander in the bullpen, he now can only call on right-handers tomorrow night as I don’t see Chapman being used three straight days.
And then a question everyone has been asking was answered. At least for now, Josh Fields is the closer. Fields got the first crack at the ninth inning, and he did nothing to suggest that he should not get the next opportunity as well. The right-hander pitched a scoreless inning while striking out one batter.
With a right-hander going tonight, we saw Houston’s other lineup. Jose Altuve and Jason Castro swapped spots in the batting order and Jesus Guzman and L.J. Hoes were replaced by Marc Krauss and Alex Presley.