HOUSTON -- The Astros' weeklong offensive blitz came to a sudden and quiet end on Monday night at Minute Maid Park, and their six-game winning streak ended as well.That's because Angels starter Tyler Skaggs and two relievers combined to hand the Astros, who had scored 47 runs in their previous
HOUSTON -- The Astros' weeklong offensive blitz came to a sudden and quiet end on Monday night at Minute Maid Park, and their six-game winning streak ended as well.
That's because Angels starter Tyler Skaggs and two relievers combined to hand the Astros, who had scored 47 runs in their previous six games, their first shutout loss of the season, 2-0, in the series opener at Minute Maid Park.
"Clearly, he was in command of the game," manager AJ Hinch said of Skaggs. "Coming out of Chicago, we were swinging the bats very well, but a well-pitched game by him."
The game ended when Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel was thrown out at third base by catcher Martin Maldonado trying to advance on a ball in the dirt. Gurriel was originally called safe, but the call was overturned after a review.
"It's a tough way to end the game, but I can't fault Yuli for trying to be aggressive," Hinch said.
The Astros' best chances to score came against the Angels' bullpen. In the eighth, reliever Justin Anderson, making his big league debut, struck out Carlos Correa swinging to strand runners at first and third, then closer Keynan Middleton allowed the first two batters to reach in the ninth before striking out the next two.
"He is a guy that can have some high pitch counts," Hinch said of Middleton, who was working for the third day in a row. "It's a little bit of a tough spot. You have to be ready to hit, because he might throw a hittable pitch, but he's also got really good chase stuff."
Skaggs (3-1) held the Astros to four hits and one walk in seven scoreless innings, sending down 13 of the final 14 batters he faced. He outdueled Astros starter Gerrit Cole (2-1), who went seven innings for the fifth start in a row, giving up two runs and four hits while striking out eight.
"Those first couple of innings were electric," Hinch said of Cole, who retired the first 13 batters he faced before Luis Valbuena singled and scored in the fifth. "He minimized damage, which is what you want out of your pitcher, and you look up and he's given up two runs and loses the game. He put us in a position to win."
Cole threw a season-high 109 pitches and is the only pitcher in club history to start his career by throwing at least seven innings with two runs or fewer in five starts. His 49 strikeouts are tied for the fifth most recorded by a pitcher in his first five starts with a team.
"You can only control so much," Cole said. "We couldn't control tonight how well Skaggs threw the ball. I got to watch a good amount of his start walking back and forth through the dugout, and he was on the corners all night and changing speeds, and he was really executing his pitches well. Sometimes you run into those situations."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Middleton gave up the single to Gurriel and walked Alex Bregman to start the ninth before falling behind on Marwin Gonzalez, 2-0. The next eight pitches Middleton threw were strikes, whiffing Gonzalez swinging and getting Evan Gattis swinging on three pitches. Middleton had Max Stassi in an 0-2 hole when he bounced a pitch in the dirt. Gurriel got a late jump off second base and was thrown out by Maldonado, a Gold Glove winner last year, to end the game.
"Marwin got in a good hitter's count, and then a tough call on a ball low," Hinch said. "And then a couple of chased breaking balls or changeups, whatever they were. Just some right-on-right stuff, which is what Middleton's strengths are. We had an opportunity to get back in it, but it does show we have plenty of fight in us."
Collin McHugh has 14 strikeouts in 9 2/3 innings pitched in relief.
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Gurriel was originally called safe at third base in the ninth, but the replay clearly showed Valbuena tagging Gurriel before his left hand touched the bag. The call was overturned to end the game.
"The ball kicks up, and lucky for Maldonado it kicked toward third base," Hinch said. "It shortens the throw. He's a Gold Glover for a reason and came up firing and threw a bullet to Valbuena."
The Astros will get their first look at Japanese star Shohei Ohtani (2-1, 3.60 ERA), who makes his fourth start of the season in Tuesday's 7:10 p.m. CT game at Minute Maid Park. Charlie Morton (3-0, 0.72 ERA), who hasn't allowed an earned run in three of his first four starts and leads the AL in ERA, will get the ball for the Astros.
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.