Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Collin McHugh came into Friday evening the biggest surprise this season for the Houston Astros. Even more surprising the Astros had just won a series against the Texas Rangers. The Astros would be tested facing lefty Jose Quintana who has been solid for the White Sox, entering the match with a 3.67 ERA.
McHugh did not disappoint in the first, pounding the strike zone with fastballs, while utilizing the off speed pitches when ahead in the count. He retired the top of the order, one, two, and three while getting Jose Abreu to wave.
The new and improved George Springer showed that patience the experts love, drawing a five pitch walk in the first though he was stranded at first.
McHugh’s dominance continued through the second, despite a walk to Adam Dunn. The Astros did a great job working the count versus Quintana forcing him to throw just almost as many balls as strikes through the first two. L.J. Hoes got creative when he hit a double down the left field line on a crazy high chopper. This would put Jesus Guzman at third, who reached on a single, and Hoes on second with two outs. Jonathan Villar would end the short lived rally by way of strikes. However the Astros approach to see more pitches had Quintana’s pitch count above 40.
Alejandro De Aza drew blood for the White Sox first hit and was stranded in the top half of the third. McHugh struggled with his command as the White Sox were able to do what the Astros did an inning prior by running up the pitch count. No harm no foul as McHugh would escape a pickle by getting Conor Gillaspie to ground out.
The game would remain scoreless up until bottom of the fifth with each pitcher still throwing several pitches. Jonathan Villar got the inning started off with a solid single to center, followed by a single by Jose Altuve. Altuve’s single was bobbled by Viciedo allowing each runner to move up a base. With two ducks on the pond Springer showed why his a run producer and hit the first pitch for a ground out to Alexei Ramirez. Villar crossed the plate to get the Astros on the board. The Astros good at bats continued when Jason Castro lined a two out single up the middle. Altuve crossed the plate for a 2-0 lead. Matt Dominguez would follow with a single before Guzman would line out to center. After five the Astros lead 2-0.
Colin McHugh’s control would waiver in the top half of the sixth after walking Gillaspie and hitting Abreu. Adam Dunn would make McHugh pay for his mistakes by way of an upper tank home run to right. As soon as things were looking good for the Astros, Adam Dunn reminded them as to why he gets paid the big bucks. Viciedo would follow with a shot to left field that would miss the home run yellow line by just feet. It was a double and McHugh’s last pitch. Josh Zeid checked into the game, but luck did not turn his way. Tyler Flowers laced a two out single to right field plating the fourth run of the inning. All four runs were charged to McHugh. Before Flowers struck the single, Porter made a questionable decision in intentionally walking De Aza. Josh Zeid’s control looked atrocious as he could not help himself and walked Sierra. Fortunately for Josh he escaped the inning and the Astros trailed 4-2.
Jake Petricka checked in for the White Sox in the bottom half of the sixth. The big right hander walked Hoes. With two outs in the inning Altuve hit a roller to Gillaspie, and Gillaspie in his haste threw the ball over Dunn at first. It would be an infield hit and a one base error to extend the inning. Unfortunately for the Astros it did not amount to much as Petricka blew gas passed Springer for an inning ending strikeout.
Zeid returned for the top of the seventh and gave up a leadoff knock to Gillaspie. Abreu grounded into a fielders choice and would end Zeid’s evening. Lefty Darin Downs checked in to face Dunn. Darin successfully did his job in striking out Dunn. That would be the only man Downs would face, when Porter called Paul Clemens into the game. Clemens got Viciedo to strike out on a pitch in the dirt, sending the game to the bottom of the seventh.
Zach Putnam checked in for the White Sox and he promptly walked Dexter Fowler to start the seventh. Fundamentals came into play once again negatively for the Astros. Castro hit a liner to Ramirez at short for an out, when Fowler got too far off of first base. This was a senseless running error, and just something that cannot happen with a team that struggles to score runs. Dominguez concluded the inning with a ground out.
Jonathan Villar’s poor day at the plate was carried out into the field as he made a throwing error allowing De Aza to reach base. Following a walk Gordon Beckham drove in the fifth run for the White sox with a single right down the third base line. Adding insult to injury in an already ugly inning Gillaspie added a two run double to the right field corner. The Astros now trailed 7-2. Clemens escaped the inning at that clip as the White Sox plated three unearned runs.
Not much else would take place as the Astros would fall in the first game of the series 7-2. A lot of the typical elements happened in this game that have been indicative of the Astros in their losses this season. They had an inning blow up on them, a base running error, a fielding error that lead to three runs, and the at bats plummeted after falling behind. This team has to do better on the little things, if they want to do big things like a winning streak. They will have another chance tomorrow as Jarred Cosart will take on Hector Noesi with a 3:10 start time.