Astros KO Felix in 1st inning, rout Mariners
HOUSTON -- The Astros broke out of their weeklong offensive slumber in impressive fashion, erupting for eight runs in the first inning against Felix Hernandez to snap a seven-game losing streak with a 10-0 win on Friday night.
The Astros cranked four home runs, including a solo shot in the second inning by Carlos Correa, who dazzled in his Minute Maid Park debut before a huge crowd. Luis Valbuena's three-run homer in the first off Hernandez snapped an 0-for-19 streak and made it 6-0, and Jason Castro added a two-run blast later in the inning.
"We put up some good ABs," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "Obviously, the hustle single [by Jose Altuve] and then we draw a walk and hit a couple of homers. I thought [Chris] Carter's at-bat was good. He got a single and sort of kept the line moving. Just an all-around, probably one of our best innings of the year."
Hernandez (9-3), who had given up 23 earned runs in 82 1/3 innings prior to Friday, was rocked for eight runs and five hits in one-third of an inning, tying the shortest start of his career. Astros starter Brett Oberholtzer benefited from the run support to win for the first time this season by throwing eight scoreless innings.
Hernandez was a loss to explain what happened against a team he hadn't allowed more than two runs against in six starts over the past three years, but said he was fine physically.
"It's my fault," Hernandez said. "I killed the bullpen today. It's on me. This is my worst start of my career."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Astros explode in first inning: Eight of the first nine batters the Astros sent to the plate against Hernandez scored as Houston grabbed an 8-0 lead. The offensive outburst couldn't have come at a better time for the Astros, who had struggled in the last week by scoring 16 runs in their previous seven games (all losses).
"I thought we did a really good job today," Carter said. "Obviously, the runs have been hard to come by lately, so I mean this one was kind of extra sweet I think just because of the way the last road trip went. So it was a nice way to start." More >
No love with the gloves (or arms): Before the Astros teed off on Hernandez with the two first-inning homers, the Mariners' ace got in hot water with some shoddy fielding contributing to the mess. Utility man WIllie Bloomquist, making his fifth start of the season at shortstop, was slow on a throw to first as Jose Altuve turned a routine grounder into an infield single leading off the game. Right fielder Mark Trumbo threw behind the runner on a flare to right that turned a single into an RBI double by George Springer. And Hernandez made a poor throw himself three batters later, rushing a throw home on a comebacker by Evan Gattis that bounced past catcher Mike Zunino as the Astros' scored two more runs before the wheels came all the way off. Because the only charged error was on a fielder's choice, all eight runs in the inning wound up being earned.
"Yeah, that was tough," manager Lloyd McClendon said. "We probably should have had the leadoff hitter out. And things just exploded from there."
Oberholtzer dazzles: The lefty turned in one of the best performances on his career, throwing eight scoreless innings for his first win of the season. Oberholtzer, making just his fourth start since returning from his second stint on the disabled list with a blister, allowed three hits and walked two batters while throwing 108 pitches.
"I don't know about best I've felt, but I felt good today," Oberholtzer said. "Offense was huge for us and that allowed me to just throw strikes and let my defense play behind me."
Going deep into the 'pen: With Hernandez lasting just a third of an inning after J.A. Happ went just 2 1/3 innings the day before in Cleveland, McClendon sent backup catcher Jesus Sucre to the mound in the eighth inning and -- with help from a double-play grounder -- he retired the side on seven pitches. Sucre is just the fourth Mariners position player to pitch in a game in franchise history and the first since catcher Jamie Burke in 2008. More >
"It was kind of like an Opening Day crowd. There was a lot of excitement. Toward the end there, I actually couldn't hear the umpire calling balls and strikes. I had to look up at the board to see what he was calling because the crowd was getting pretty loud. It makes it fun." -- Castro on the Astros' second-largest crowd of the year (32,173).
"It certainly isn't ideal. You'd obviously like to score nine runs every day, but it's baseball. You score nine runs and get two hits the next. It's tough, but we'll be alright. [Oberholtzer] threw the ball well." -- Mariners' Kyle Seager after his 0-for-4 night.
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• The last time the Astros scored eight runs or more in the first inning was July 10, 2003, vs. Cincinnati (nine runs). The last time they scored eight in any inning was Aug. 12, 2008, vs. the Giants.
• Hernandez had allowed seven runs in 34 2/3 innings over his first five road starts of the season before giving up eight in one-third of an inning on Friday. His season ERA rose from 2.51 to 3.38.
Astros second baseman Jose Altuve left Friday's game after one inning with right hamstring discomfort and is listed as day-to-day, though he won't play Saturday.. Altuve singled to start the first and grounded out to shortstop later in the inning, injuring his hamstring on the play.
"It's not that bad," Altuve said. "I'm going to come back tomorrow and they're going to [look] at it. See what happens tomorrow." More >
Mariners: Left-hander Mike Montgomery (0-1, 2.08) gets his third start in place of injured James Paxton as the Mariners try to get back on track in a 1:10 p.m. PT game at Minute Maid Park. Montgomery, acquired from the Rays for Erasmo Ramirez in March, pitched very well in two Safeco starts against the Yankees and Rays and now will make his MLB road debut.
Astros: Right-hander Collin McHugh (6-2, 4.34 ERA) starts Saturday's game against the Mariners at 3:10 p.m. CT at Minute Maid Park. In his last 22 starts, he's 13-2 with a 3.15 ERA, and the Astros have gone 16-6 in those games.
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