Astros sprint past Mariners behind McHugh

May 8th, 2016

HOUSTON -- The Astros couldn't find a way to cool down Robinson Cano, but they did shut down the rest of the Mariners en route to a 5-1 Mother's Day victory at Minute Maid Park on Sunday.

Collin McHugh threw seven innings of one-run ball, spoiled only by Cano's American League-leading 12th home run, to earn his third straight win and put his record at 4-3 with a 5.50 ERA. Cano has hit five of those homers and amassed 17 of his MLB-leading 33 RBIs in seven games against the Astros.

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"Cano was Superman this series, so we didn't solve him and he found a way to remind us that you can't make any pitches to him when he's hot," Houston manager A.J. Hinch said. "Other than that, Collin was as in control of this game as any of our starting pitchers have been this entire season. Landing breaking balls, making big pitches and using his changeup… Just a complete effort out of him."

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Jose Altuve went 2-for-3 with a walk, two runs and a career-high-tying three stolen bases as Houston halted Seattle's streak of six winning series by evening the four-game set at two wins apiece. The Astros (12-20) have won four of their last six games.

Hisashi Iwakuma gave up three runs on seven hits over five innings in taking the loss for Seattle, as he fell to 1-4 with a 4.19 ERA. The Mariners finished 5-2 on their road trip and are 18-13 overall as they head home still a half-game up on Texas in the AL West.

"We played very well on the trip," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "We did not hit well today, but for most of the trip we did swing the bats pretty well. Obviously, Robbie has been carrying us and hit another one today, but it was an excellent trip coming off the last homestand. We're continuing to play good ball; we just kind of had a dud today."


Ripping with RISP: Known for their pop for a year and change now, the Astros played a rare brand of small ball on Sunday. Of course, it helps when you can hit with runners in scoring position. Houston entered the day hitting .222 in such scenarios, 27th in the Major Leagues, before going 4-for-14 vs. Seattle. Colby Rasmus dropped an RBI squeeze bunt to beat the shift. Carlos Correa drilled a single. Altuve led the way as the team stole five bases off Seattle backup catcher Steve Clevenger. After a frustrating night of missed chances on Saturday, Houston finally cashed in.

"Good offenses always score in multiple ways, not just on the three-run homer," Hinch said. More >

Cano crushing (continued): The six-time All-Star accounted for the only mark against McHugh with his shot leading off the fourth. Cano drove an 0-1 fastball that McHugh left up in the zone into the right-field seats, with Statcast™ projecting the distance at 380 feet. Cano went 1-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to eight games, during which he's 18-for-35 (.514) with four homers and nine RBIs to raise his batting average from .226 to .305.

"It's just good games and trying to do my job with men in scoring position," said Cano.

Masterful McHugh: McHugh hasn't pitched up to the form that won him 19 games in 2015 so far this season, but he looked the part on Sunday. The righty was dominant in his first quality start since Houston's home opener vs. Kansas City on April 11, scattering five hits and striking out five in 108 pitches. The control was precise and the curveball sharp, as Seattle hitters were guessing all game long despite McHugh throwing 75 strikes. With Lance McCullers due back soon, Chris Devenski coming on as a rookie and Dallas Keuchel showing progress in Saturday's loss, McHugh stepping up would again give the Astros a formidable rotation.

"We know what we're capable of, we've shown it over the course of a full season," McHugh said. "We know what to expect of ourselves, and these are the types of games we want to throw. We want to be out there in the seventh, eighth inning and be able to hand it off to the bullpen and have them close the door."


"I liked every at-bat Cano got out. And I hated every at-bat where he did damage, and he had more damage than outs in this series. The rest of the league can try to sort him out for [two months] until we see him again."

-- Hinch, on Cano crushing Houston pitching

"Iwakuma didn't throw the ball bad at all, he just kind of had the crazy inning there with the soft hits and two-strike, two-out bunt. You've got to give Rasmus credit. He executed it. It's a tough play, it's a risky play, but it worked for him."

-- Servais, on the Astros' three hits and two runs in the third with only one ball hit out of the infield .


Cano has 33 RBIs in 31 games. The only Mariner to drive in more runs in the first 31 games was Ken Griffey Jr. with 35 in 1997, on his way to a 147-RBI season.

Marwin Gonzalez went 2-for-3 with a double and is now 10-of-19 against Iwakuma in his career. That's the most hits he's recorded against any pitcher.


Mariners:Felix Hernandez (2-2, 2.21 ERA) will look to bounce back from his shortest start of the season when Seattle opens a six-game homestand against Tampa Bay at 7:10 p.m. PT on Monday. Hernandez was pulled after giving up eight runs (four earned) in four-plus innings Wednesday in Oakland. The 30-year-old is 7-2 with a 1.90 ERA in 15 starts against the Rays, including his perfect game in 2012.

Astros:Mike Fiers will be on the bump when Houston opens a three-game set with Cleveland at 7:10 p.m. CT on Monday. Fiers is coming off a four-run, 4 1/3-inning outing vs. Minnesota, and he's struggled to keep the ball off the middle of the plate this season, allowing five home runs over his past four outings. This will be Fiers' first career start against the Indians.

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