Believe it or not, but wins in baseball are difficult to come by. Unless you are the Astros then you are winning every game for the rest of the season.
Oh, look, the Astros played the Kansas City Royals last night and won to the score of 7-to-3. This also happened to be the 58th game of the season. Unless this game held any significance for you then there isn’t anything particularly noteworthy about the first two sentences. But the end result should mean something to you if follow the Astros or baseball in general.
0 home runs allowed
Before I am accused of missing a simple statistic from the box score, I want you to know that Astros reliever James Hoyt did allow one home run last night. The zero home runs allowed headline actually belongs to an Astros pitcher who has battled the long ball blues all season long. His name happens to be Mike Fiers.
In case you haven’t paid to attention to any of Fiers’ starts this season, then let me fill you in. The former Milwaukee Brewer has allowed a grand total of 18 home runs to open the season. In fact, his last two starts, last night’s included, were the first outings in which he did not allow at least one home run in a game. At one point, he led the league in home runs allowed. It wasn’t a pretty picture for the veteran starter.
Then his demotion to the bullpen before Memorial Day happen. It was a move that was argued for by much of the fanbase. Well, the active fanbase on Twitter and Facebook. Anyway, Fiers was relegated to pitching out of the bullpen for the time being while Brad Peacock received an extended look in the Astros starting rotation. Then the injury to Charlie Morton went down and the rest is short-term history as Fiers retook his place in the rotation.
Last night’s start, though, was a solid pitching performance for Fiers.
6/4/17 Pitching Line: 5 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 SO
Sure, it wasn’t a dominant showing, but what else can you expect from a pitcher that was removed from the starting rotation not too long ago.
Since we are already on the discussion of the Astros pitching staff, I would like to provide a shoutout to the other pitchers who partook in the festivities last night in Kansas City. Outside of Fiers, the Astros received solid relief appearances from Reymin Guduan, Hoyt, Will Harris, and Michael Feliz.
6/4/17 Bullpen Pitching Line: 4 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 SO
The pitching did an excellent job in holding down the Royals offense for most of the game. And the eleven strikeouts were a key reason.
Guduan and Hoyt, in particular, managed to escape a sticky situation in the sixth inning. There was a baserunner on first and third with no outs, and the Royals were threatening to get back into the game. In turn, manager A.J. Hinch yanked Fiers then turned to Guduan and Hoyt to get them out of the jam.
And by golly, did they deliver!
One line drive out and two strikeouts later, the Astros were sailing into the seventh inning with eyes on their eleventh straight victory. Something about the number eleven just sticks out this morning.
With each passing game that he plays, I swear I am growing more fond of Brian McCann in Astros uniform. And I was already fond of him back in his days with Atlanta and New York.
McCann provided the key hit of the game last night with a two-run home run that doubled the Astros lead from 2-to-0 to 4-to-0.
The two-run shot travelled a distance of 419 feet, which happens to be the second-longest home run he has hit this season. The first? A 425 foot home run on April 8th that ironically came against Danny Duffy of the Royals. By the way, the home run from last night’s game dropped the Royals win expectancy from 24.6% to 12.7%.
**Statistics and batted ball information courtesy of Fangraphs, Baseball Reference and Baseball Savant**