Astros provide overdue outburst in 8-run first
Houston stuns Felix, snaps seven-game losing streak in opener
HOUSTON -- The Astros made trying to score runs painful to watch during their seven-game losing streak. Then, just like that, they made scoring look easy in the first inning on Friday night against one of the best pitchers in the game.
Houston enjoyed its biggest offensive outburst of the season, erupting for eight runs in the first inning against Seattle's Felix Hernandez en route to a 10-0 win at Minute Maid Park. It was their biggest inning in nearly seven years and largest first-inning explosion in nearly a dozen years.
"I think we don't care too much about who's pitching," said Astros second baseman Jose Altuve, who left the game after the first inning with a hamstring injury. "We go out with the same attitude every day."
The Astros sent 12 batters to the plate in the first. The first time through the order, the only batter who didn't score was rookie Carlos Correa, who homered in the second to make sure every player in the starting lineup touched home plate.
During their seven-game losing streak, the Astros scored only 16 runs, including six games of two runs or fewer.
"It had been built up a little bit over the last week or so," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "Very unpredictable to do that against a guy like Felix, but much needed."
George Springer had an RBI double to make it 1-0, and Hernandez fielded a bouncer off the bat of Evan Gattis later in the inning and skipped it past the catcher, allowing two runs to score. Luis Valbuena broke an 0-for-19 slump with a three-run homer, and Jason Castro added a two-run blast to make it 8-0.
Hernandez was pulled having recorded only one out in what matched the shortest outing of his career.
"We had a good approach against him," Hinch said. "He doesn't walk a ton of guys. We drew a walk or two that inning, and I thought we executed a really good game plan. Obviously, any time a pitcher gets hit around like that in the first, a pitcher of his magnitude, it's a combination of things. It's approach. We ambushed him a little bit with some big hits and we piled on and continued on. He's not going to concede to anything, and I think he just made some pitches we could handle and we handled them fine and we chased him out of the game early, which is hard to do."
Castro said the Astros didn't chase many bad pitches.
"I mean we stuck to our game plan early and tried to make him throw the ball over the plate," he said. "We got some pretty good pitches early and that kind of forced him into the zone. We were able to string some hits together."