HOUSTON -- Astros reliever Chris Devenski picked right up where he left off last season, twisting the Mariners in knots over four hitless innings in relief, striking out seven batters during a 5-3 win in 13 innings on Wednesday night at Minute Maid Park.Devenski was dazzling with his changeup, a
HOUSTON -- Astros reliever Chris Devenski picked right up where he left off last season, twisting the Mariners in knots over four hitless innings in relief, striking out seven batters during a 5-3 win in 13 innings on Wednesday night at Minute Maid Park.
Devenski was dazzling with his changeup, a pitch he used to get six of his seven strikeouts, including Robinson Cano twice. He's only one of three relievers since 1990 to have at least seven strikeouts in at least four scoreless innings in relief, and he's done it twice. The others were Melido Perez and Randy Johnson.
"Me and [catcher Evan Gattis], we were on the same page tonight and I was trusting him, and he was calling all the right pitches at the right time," Devenski said. "I was trusting him and my defense, and we had some good plays out there. Very happy with the 'W' today."
Devenski, who posted a 2.16 ERA and 0.914 WHIP in 48 appearances as a rookie last year, had the 10th-lowest batting average allowed on changeups last year (.193), according to Statcast™. He had the third-lowest slugging percentage allowed on the pitch (.240).
"It was working good, but overall that was a team win, man," he said. "Everyone played their part and it was exciting. We never gave up."
Devenski joined the Astros shortly after Opening Day last year and quickly became a key figure in manager A.J. Hinch's bullpen with the ability to escape jams and pitch multiple innings. Wednesday marked Devenski's first appearance of the 2017 season.
"I love him," Hinch said. "I loved him before he pitched four innings. I certainly love him after. This is what Chris Devenski does. He's a troubleshooter with the ability to step up and pitch in big moments. These strikeouts, he was in total command.
"I did not want to extend him as long as I did, but there's really never a reason to take Chris Devenski out of the game. When he gets going like this, he's so efficient, he's so dominant and he certainly shouldn't go unnoticed on a day like today. He was huge."
Devenski threw 60 pitches and got 10 swinging strikes, nine of which were changeups, according to Statcast™. He threw 28 changeups overall.
"He really kept us off-balance," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "He's got a good changeup and worked in a lot of the offspeed stuff. We've been anxious and we're not getting the ball up in the strike zone. Our guys want to do too much instead of just moving the line along. It's early season and guys are pressing a little bit."
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.