Giants' offense backs superb Heston vs. Astros
HOUSTON -- Matt Duffy drove in a career-high five runs with a three-run double in the second inning and a two-run single in the fifth to lead the Giants to an 8-1 rout of the Astros in an Interleague matchup Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park.
Astros starter Collin McHugh (4-1) saw his 11-game winning streak come to an end when he lasted just 4 2/3 innings, allowing seven runs (three earned) and seven hits. The Giants scored five times in the fifth to take a seven-run lead, including a two-out infield single by Justin Maxwell on a play that may have ended the inning scoreless had shortstop Marwin Gonzalez not made an errant throw to second.
Giants starter Chris Heston (3-3), facing the Astros for the first time in his career, handcuffed the struggling Houston offense in his first career complete game, allowing two hits and one run on a second-inning homer by catcher Jason Castro. Heston notched a career-best 10 strikeouts and retired the final 22 batters he faced.
Heston, who threw five complete games in 128 Minor League starts, felt thrilled to be on the mound in the ninth inning of a big league game.
"That was awesome," said Heston, who didn't walk a batter. "I'll remember that forever."
The right-hander became the first Giants rookie pitcher to record a complete game and strike out 10 since Roger Mason did so on Oct. 4, 1985, against Atlanta. The last Giants rookie to reach double-digits in strikeouts was Tim Lincecum, who amassed 12 K's on July 1, 2007, against Arizona.
"He pitched well and we didn't really counter with a ton of back-to-back quality plate appearances," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "That's the disappointing side. You're going to need more action on the bases for us to do any damage. Once he got the lead, he was in cruise control." More >
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Little things matter: Brandon Crawford set up Duffy's big second-inning double when he was hit by a pitch to load the bases. With a 1-2 count on Crawford, McHugh was one strike away from escaping the inning unscored upon. Also, Maxwell stayed alive during his key fifth-inning at-bat by fouling off a tough 2-2 pitch from McHugh.
McHugh struggles with stuff: McHugh, who had his shortest outing since July 7 of last year, gave up three runs in the first on a bases-loaded double by Duffy, but he nearly escaped the fifth unscathed when Maxwell hit a ball into the left-side hole with two outs and wound up with an infield hit that led to the first of five Giants runs in the inning.
"I've said before, our job is to go out and throw the ball for as well as we can and as long as we can," McHugh said. "Whether we're scoring 12 a game or not scoring, it doesn't matter. I didn't do my job very well today, and they were a lot better." More >
Hesto Presto: Heston struck out four batters looking, reflecting his ability to keep Astros hitters off-balance. Duffy interpreted what happened: "Usually when that happens, guys are really starting to think hard against a pitcher, at least for me. If I'm striking out looking, it means I'm probably thinking too much."
"We've got to get back to passing the baton to the next hitter. Some of those might be home runs, some of those might be base hits, but we have to piece together quality appearances back to back to create some innings." -- Hinch on the Astros' recent offensive struggles.
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The Astros hadn't lost a game started by McHugh since July 27, 2014, winning 11 consecutive of his starts in between losses.
Hinch successfully had a call overturned in the sixth after a replay challenge. The first-base umpire called Nori Aoki safe at first after he hit a grounder to Gonzalez, but the replay showed the ball hit first baseman Chris Carter's glove just before Aoki reached the bag.
Giants: With left-hander Brett Oberholtzer pitching for Houston in Wednesday's 5:10 p.m. PT series finale, San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy might feel compelled to add another right-handed batter or two to the lineup. He already has said that Buster Posey likely would serve as the designated hitter, and he very well could put Duffy at shortstop or second base.
Astros: Oberholtzer comes off the disabled list to make his first start of the season for the Astros in Wednesday's series finale against the Giants at 7:10 p.m. CT at Minute Maid Park. Oberholtzer came to spring camp as a favorite to make the rotation, but he's spent two months dealing with a blister on his left index finger. The game should will also mark the return of outfielder George Springer, who missed a week with a concussion.
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