Jason Castro entered Thursday’s game against the Rangers with a lengthy cold spell at the plate. Actually cold is probably being generous, as he had an 0-for-20 skid prior to his first hit Thursday night.
Castro smashed a single in his first at-bat down the right field line. Without the carom off the wall going directly to Rangers right fielder Jim Adduci, Castro would have had a double. But his next at-bat defined the game and was certainly the difference in this low-scoring 4-2 win over the Rangers. With the bases loaded, Jason sent a line drive that was “plenty enough” according to ESPN’s home run tracker. The tracker also listed Castro’s hit being 104 mph off-the-bat with a true distance of 392 feet.
The grand slam was the Astros’ first at home this season.
Ron Washington surprisingly pulled his starter, Nick Tepesch, two batters prior to Castro’s at bat. The fifth inning unfolded with a single by Jose Altuve and a walk to Chris Carter. Rangers’ relief pitcher Roman Mendez would allow an infield single to Dexter Fowler prior to allowing the round tripper to the Astros catcher.
Collin McHugh pitched very well for seven innings. He earned the victory to get to a modest 3-game personal winning streak and improve his record on the season to 7-9.
The first inning was a little rocky. A defensive miscue between Marwin Gonzalez and Dexter Fowler allowed the Rangers lead-off hitter Leonys Martin to get a bloop single to begin the game. Elvis Andrus executed a perfect hit-and-run to send Martin to third base. McHugh was then able to induce a run-scoring double play with Mike Carp at the plate.
The Rangers would score another run in the third inning to take a 2-0 lead.
McHugh settled down and worked into a groove to throw 4 scoreless innings. All six of his strikeouts were swinging. Adrian Beltre, who entered the game with a string of 51 at-bats without a strike out, struck out twice against McHugh.
Collin’s final line: 7 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 6 K on 102 pitches, 73 for strikes.
In part due to McHugh going relatively deep into the game, the Astros bullpen slammed the door with 2 perfect frames to secure the victory. Josh Fields got a hold while Tony Sipp was called upon for his second save of the season.