HOUSTON -- The Astros were pushing the tempo early in the game, going from first to third base on hits and turning bloopers into doubles. Before Tigers pitcher Michael Fulmer knew what hit him, the Astros had built a five-run lead after three innings.It wasn't until later in the game
HOUSTON -- The Astros were pushing the tempo early in the game, going from first to third base on hits and turning bloopers into doubles. Before Tigers pitcher Michael Fulmer knew what hit him, the Astros had built a five-run lead after three innings.
It wasn't until later in the game when the Astros really flexed their muscles, with Josh Reddick and Evan Gattis swatting back-to-back homers in the fifth and Tyler White hitting a two-run blast in the seventh to send Houston to a 9-1 win over the Tigers on Saturday afternoon at Minute Maid Park.
"We talked going into this series, we wanted to put pressure on them like we do every series," Astros manager AJ Hinch said. "But when we get going like that, we keep coming at you and it changes the whole psyche of the pitcher. He's got to speed up a little bit, do a little bit extra, and if he makes a mistake, we hit the ball out of the ballpark. Really a complete offense."
All-Star starting pitcher Gerrit Cole (10-2) joined teammates Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers as double-digit game winners by allowing one run in 5 2/3 innings, striking out eight and walking four. He was one out away from throwing six scoreless innings before giving up a two-out double by James McCann that drove in Detroit's first run of the series.
"It was a good outing for him," Hinch said. "He had to push a little bit. He pushed his pitch count up a little bit higher than he wanted. We had a thin bullpen again today. It was big for him to get a couple of outs into the sixth."
Cole, who threw 107 pitches three days ahead of a possible appearance in the MLB All-Star Game presented by Mastercard (Tuesday, 6:30 p.m. CT on FOX), was activated from the bereavement list prior to Saturday's game after missing three games following the death of his grandmother.
"It was tough to keep the emotions in check at times, trying to control things that are out of my control," Cole said. "I'm thankful we put up a bunch of runs and gave us some cushion and all in all played a good game."
Yuli Gurriel's sac fly and Reddick's bloop double in the first put the Astros ahead, 2-0, and an RBI double by George Springer and single by Alex Bregman made it 4-0. Marwin Gonzalez stretched the lead to 5-0 with a bloop single in the third.
Reddick and Gattis hit back-to-back homers in the fifth to chase Fulmer and push the lead to 7-0. All but one Astros starter had at least one hit, with Reddick and Springer going 2-for-4.
"Our guys see the All-Star break right out in front of us, so there's a little bit of a rush to put up numbers, to get that last hit, that last homer," Hinch said. "We still have another game left. Guys are so proud of the first half that we're having as a team. They're proud of a lot of guys. Evan Gattis, with the way his year started, to the way his first half is finishing, you look up on the board and he has 19 homers now. That's a good first half for him."
The Astros have three pitchers with at least 10 wins prior to the All-Star break for the second time in franchise history. Jose Lima, Mike Hampton and Shane Reynolds did it in 1999.
HE SAID IT
"I'm just happy to have some RBIs today. Yuli usually takes them all from me. I gave him a hard time about it, because it's usually him driving them all in and left me with nothing. It was actually nice to have some guys on base and actually come through and get the job done today with the bloop and the homer." -- Reddick
All-Star right-hander Justin Verlander (9-4, 2.05 ERA) will make his first start against his former team when the Astros close out the first half of the season against the Tigers at 1:10 p.m. CT on Sunday at Minute Maid Park. Verlander won 183 games in 13 years for the Tigers, who traded him to Houston on Aug. 31. Former Astros right-hander Francisco Liriano (3-5, 4.74 ERA) will start for Detroit after receiving his World Series ring from the Astros on Saturday.
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.