HOUSTON -- Lance McCullers had earned this special moment. When Astros manager AJ Hinch and pitching coach Brent Strom embraced the Astros' youngest starting pitcher after his brilliant outing Friday night, it was a culmination of the 24-year-old's growth -- and another example of the dominance he can display.McCullers' dozen
HOUSTON -- Lance McCullers had earned this special moment. When Astros manager AJ Hinch and pitching coach Brent Strom embraced the Astros' youngest starting pitcher after his brilliant outing Friday night, it was a culmination of the 24-year-old's growth -- and another example of the dominance he can display.
McCullers' dozen strikeouts in the Astros' 11-4 win against the White Sox at Minute Maid Park were his most in four seasons with the club. Working on three extra days of rest since his previous start on June 28, the Astros' right-hander carried a no-hitter into sixth inning and was welcomed with hugs from his elders when his career evening was complete.
"I was just so happy with [his] progress," Hinch said. "He's got so many options now against any hitter. … I love the growth that's happening for him as a Major League starting pitcher. ... He knows what he's going through and how he's taking steps forward. It was cool to have a moment with him."
McCullers went to his curveball for 58 of his 93 pitches and buckled the White Sox with 23 swinging strikes. He lost his no-no in the sixth, allowing three consecutive singles, including an RBI knock to Yolmer Sanchez.
"Things have definitely been clicking as of late," McCullers said. "I feel like I've got one of my best breaking balls I've had over the last couple of outings, which has been nice."
The offense did what was needed to boost McCullers. Yuli Gurriel roped an RBI single in the third inning, and reserve catcher Tim Federowicz knocked his first RBI as an Astro with a two-run double in the fourth.
The Astros clobbered the White Sox bullpen with seven insurance runs in the eighth inning against reliever Hector Santiago, including a three-run homer from Evan Gattis, who became the first Astro to reach 60 RBIs this season.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Maybe it was lost in the lights? After Federowicz, George Springer and Alex Bregman knocked singles in the eighth inning and Jose Altuve was intentionally walked, Gurriel shot a high fly ball into right field. White Sox right fielder Avisail Garcia overran or misjudged Gurriel's popup and was charged with an error, which brought in a runner and continued Houston's monster offensive inning.
McCullers' 12 strikeouts marked the Astros' 18th double-digit strikeout game by a starting pitcher this season. In franchise history, Astros starting pitchers have recorded 18 or more double-digit strikeouts games in three other seasons: 1969 (24 games), 1986 (18 games) and 1987 (20 games).
ASTROS DEDICATE WIN TO CAMERON GOOCH
Following Friday's game, Hinch took a moment during his postgame news conference to dedicate the win to 10-year-old Cameron Gooch, a cancer patient who was carried onto the field pregame by Hinch and Gattis to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
"We don't often get to dedicate wins but to have [Gattis] and I carry him out to throw the first pitch, we would like to dedicate this win to him," Hinch said. "Gatty hit a home run for him and Gatty and I both wore this wristband that he gave to us. That means a lot to us. I hope Cameron stays strong, and go 'Stros."
HE SAID IT
"He was just mixing it up. His curveball-changeup combo was special. His changeup was nasty to go along with his curveball that does 20 different things. It was pretty special to catch ... I just saw from the beginning that he had such a good feel for it. He kept shaking to it and I was like, 'All right, let's stick with it.'" -- Federowicz, on catching McCullers
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
In the fifth inning, Altuve shot a grounder to White Sox shortstop Leury Garcia and was called out at first. The Astros challenged, and after a review, the call was overturned.
Astros right-hander Charlie Morton will get the ball in Game 3 of Houston's four-game series against the White Sox at 3:10 p.m. CT on Saturday at Minute Maid Park. Morton (10-2, 2.55 ERA) is 3-1 with a 1.75 ERA with 37 strikeouts in 25 2/3 innings in his last four starts. James Shields (3-9, 4.12 ERA) will start for the White Sox.
Christian Boutwell is a reporter for MLB.com based in Houston.