May 8, 2023; Anaheim, California, USA; Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani (17) doubles in a run in the sixth inning against the Houston Astros at Angel Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Angels rally late to beat Astros 6-4 in series opener
The Astros have lost three in a row and five-of-six after dropping their series opener in Anaheim 6-4 on Monday. The Angels broke a 4-4 tie by scoring twice in the eighth inning against Rafael Montero, who also took the loss on Saturday night in Seattle. Taylor Ward finished with three hits for the Angels, while Shohei Ohtani doubled twice and drove home two runs.
Hunter Brown struggles for a second straight start
Brown only allowed two runs on four hits in his last start against the Giants, but he lasted just 4.1 innings due to five walks. He only walked one against the Angels on Monday night, but he lasted just 4.1 innings once again because he was hit hard.
The Angels tagged the Astros’ starter for four runs on nine hits, and four of those hits went for extra bases, including Hunter Renfroe’s home run. Hunter Brown had gone the first 56.1 innings of his Major League career without surrendering a long ball.
Brown’s velocity was the same as it has been all season, and he even reached 99 miles per hour with his fastball, but his secondary stuff let him down. He did not generate a swinging strike on his curveball, slider, or splitter, nor did the Angels chase any of those pitches outside the strike zone.
Seth Martinez replaced Brown with two runners on base in the fifth, but he ended the threat by inducing a ground ball double play from Renfroe. Martinez also worked around a two-out single in the sixth. Hector Neris retired the top of the Angels lineup in order in the seventh. Rafael Montero allowed a leadoff walk to Anthony Rendon in the eighth, and Brandon Drury drove him in with a one-out triple. Matt Thaiss followed with a sacrifice fly.
Montero has allowed runs in three straight outings, and his ERA now sits at 6.14.
Astros’ offense kept at bay outside a third-inning rally
The Astros rallied for three two-out runs in the third inning to grab a 3-1 lead. Mauricio Dubón started the rally with a two-out single, and scored on Alex Bregman’s first triple since September 2020. Yordan Alvarez and José Abreu capped the inning with back-to-back doubles, but from that point on, the Astros were limited to just a David Hensley solo homer in the fifth.
Former Astros farmhand Patrick Sandoval allowed four runs on seven hits in 6.1 innings, but the Astros could not touch the Angels bullpen as Matt Moore and Carlos Estevez retired all eight men they faced.
On the bright side, Bregman had hits in his first two at bats after finishing the Astros’ series in Seattle hitless in 10 at bats.
Chas McCormick returns
The Astros activated McCormick off the IL on Monday after he missed the last 20 games, first with vision issues, and then with a low back injury. He passed a test immediately in the bottom of the first inning when he made a great catch on Mike Trout’s 112.2 MPH line drive with a xBA of .740, but at the plate, he wasn’t quite as successful.
McCormick finished 0-for-4 and struck out to end the game. The three balls he put in play had exit velocities of 82.0 MPH, 79.1 MPH, and 44.0 MPH.
News and Notes:
•Former Astros hitting coach Deacon Jones passed away on Sunday at age 89. Jones was with the Astros from 1976-82, and served as a special assistant for the Sugar Land Space Cowboys.
•The Astros promoted 2022 first round pick Drew Gilbert to Double-A Corpus Christi. Gilbert, rated as the Astros’ top prospect by MLB.com, slashed .361/.421/.686 in 21 games with High-A Asheville.
•Yordan Alvarez finished 2-for-4, extending his on base streak to 29 games, the longest in franchise history to start a season. Going back to last season, Alvarez has reached base in 33 straight games.
•Outfielder Michael Brantley joined the Astros in Anaheim on Monday, but manager Dusty Baker told reporters he will not be activated for Tuesday’s game.
•Second baseman José Altuve, who took batting practice on the field Saturday and Sunday, returned to Houston and will face live pitching in Sugar Land.
The Astros and Angels will play the middle game of their three-game series on Tuesday night with Framber Valdez (2-4) starting opposite Shohei Ohtani.