3 takeaways from Astros' series-opening win

Miley has strong outing; Marisnick delivers with bat, glove; Pressly's historic streak ends

May 25th, 2019

HOUSTON -- The Astros weren’t able to fully enjoy a 4-3 win over the Red Sox on Friday night at Minute Maid Park after All-Star outfielder left the game in the eighth inning with what could be a significant left hamstring injury.

Springer returned to the lineup after missing the previous four games with lower back stiffness and hit a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning, helping the Astros to a 4-0 lead. The Red Sox got solo Xander Bogaerts (sixth), Jackie Bradley Jr. (eighth) and Christian Vazquez (ninth) homers to make it interesting, but struck out Bradley Jr. to end the game and convert his club-record 25th consecutive save.

Here are three key storylines from the Astros’ 16th win in their past 20 games:

Miley changes attack
Lefty starter , who had thrown his cutter 51.7 percent of the time prior to Friday’s start, relied on the four-seam fastball more to give the Red Sox a different look after facing them five days earlier in Boston. Forty-four of his 101 pitches were cutters, but he threw 17 changeups, 28 fastballs and 12 curves.

“He threw a lot more four-seamers than he’s going to be given credit,” Astros manager AJ Hinch said. “The usage was really good. He won virtually every big at-bat. … It was good to see him finish six innings.”

Miley held the Red Sox to one run in six innings, striking out a season-high eight batters. Miley is 4-0 with a 3.41 ERA in five starts in May and is 3-0 with a 2.15 ERA with 29 strikeouts in 29 1/3 innings in five starts at Minute Maid Park this year.

“We just thought just facing them last week, we felt there was a lot of guys swinging at the cutter and looking for it, so we decided to go more four-seamers until they made the adjustments,” Miley said. “This is the first time in the last couple of years I felt confident throwing a fastball and expecting a good result.”

Marisnick dazzles in center
Everybody knows is one of the best defensive outfielders in baseball, and he showed it again Friday with a pair of terrific catches to rob Boston’s Andrew Benintendi of base hits in center field.

In the fifth, Marisnick charged in and made a diving grab with a runner at first and no outs. The play had a 50-percent catch probability, making it a four-star catch according to Statcast. Then, with the Red Sox leading 4-2 in the ninth, Marisnick ran 103 feet in 5.1 seconds towards the wall and came down with what Statcast categorized as a five-star catch. It had a five-percent catch probability.

“I didn’t know where the wall was,” Marisnick said. “I knew I was close, but I had a little room to extend the arm and make the catch. That one fired me up, keep a runner off the base there. Ended up there was a home run hit.”

Marisnick, who went 2-for-4 with a homer off Chris Sale, has seen his playing time increase as he continues to swing the bat better. He’s played in 19 of the Astros’ last 20 games and figures to get even more playing time if Springer is out for an extended period.

“This is the most games he’s played in a row,” Hinch said. “He’s beat up physically like a lot of our guys. He’s making crazy good catches. He got the homer. There’s not much to not like in a game like that.”

Streaks blown, but game saved
Astros elite back-end relievers and Osuna both gave up solo homers, bringing to end long scoreless streaks. Pressly had his Major League-record 40-game consecutive scoreless streak snapped when Bradley Jr. took him deep in the eighth, but he came back to get a big strikeout of Mitch Moreland and strand a pair of runners.

Meanwhile, Osuna gave up a two-out homer to Vazquez in the ninth, ending his scoreless streak at 18 outings, but he was able to convert his 25th consecutive successful save, breaking Brad Lidge’s club record set in 2005.

“They’re human, but we sure do like putting them in the game with the game on the line and having the lead and giving them a little bit of wiggle room,” Hinch said. “Put them in so many times where they got no room for error. They deserve a little leeway on a night they give up a run and we still win.”