Apr 5, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Astros center fielder Chas McCormick (20) celebrates with second baseman David Hensley (17) after hitting a home run during the second inning against the Detroit Tigers at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Astros avoid sweep by Tigers with 8-2 win behind Javier’s strong start
After dropping games Monday and Tuesday, the Astros (3-4) finished their series against the Detroit Tigers (2-4) with an 8-2 win on Wednesday afternoon. Cristian Javier was magnificent on the mound, and Houston’s bullpen did enough to preserve the lead late. Chas McCormick smacked two extra-base hits, including his first home run of the 2023 campaign. Kyle Tucker went deep for the third time this season, and Jeremy Peña sent his first homer of the season into the Crawford Boxes in the eighth.
Cristian Javier in cruise control
The Astros righty began the afternoon with a nine-pitch first inning and an eight-pitch second, throwing a first-pitch strike to each of the first six batters he faced. Detroit pushed across a run on a softly-hit single by Nick Maton in the third, but Javier worked through the trouble without further damage. Javier completed six strong innings, racking up five strikeouts, allowing five mostly-soft hits, and did not walk a batter. He threw 99 pitches and left the game in line for his first win of the season after six strong innings.
In Cristian Javier’s first start with rookie Cesar Salazar behind the dish, the 26-year-old righty looked as comfortable as ever. The Astros have now won Cristian Javier’s last 11 starts including the 2022 Postseason.
Astros flex their offensive muscle
Astros center fielder Chas McCormick yanked a home run 368 feet into the Crawford Boxes in the second inning, staking Christian Javier and the Astros to an early 2-0 lead. The homer was McCormick’s first of the season and his first to left field since 2021. Kyle Tucker added a solo home run in the fourth, a 338-foot golf shot that barely cleared the right field wall. After a ground-rule double by Chas McCormick, Corey Julks drove a sacrifice fly to left-center that plated McCormick for Houston’s fourth run of the day. Jose Abreu’s two-out single in the fifth knocked Eduardo Rodriguez out of the game after 96 pitches, leaving him in line for the loss.
Yordan Alvarez picked up his 10th RBI of the seven-game homestand on a sacrifice fly in the seventh, extending the Astros’ lead to 5-1. Two batters later, Kyle Tucker dropped a Texas leaguer in between two Tigers’ outfielders for a double that drove in Alex Bregman and pushed Houston’s advantage to 6-1. Former Houston Cougar Corey Julks came within a few feet of his first career home run in the eighth but settled for a double. Jeremy Peña drove him in anyway with his first home run of the season two batters later for an 8-2 lead.
The bullpen shuts the door
Javier’s strong start gave Dusty Baker the opportunity to set up his traditional seventh, eighth, and ninth-inning arms to close the game out. Bryan Abreu got off to a shaky start in the seventh, walking the first two batters he faced before striking Zach McKinstry out looking and inducing a double-play grounder from Javier Baez to end the frame. Baker stuck with his plan despite the Astros extending their lead in the seventh, turning to Rafael Montero in the eighth. Montero surrendered a triple to Riley Greene and a single by Austin Meadows to make it 6-2 but limited the inning’s damage to just the one run. Ryan Pressly entered with an 8-2 lead in the ninth and pitched a clean inning to finish the day on a high note.
News and Notes:
Houston honored Tigers designated hitter Miguel Cabrera pregame, who played his last career game at Minute Maid Park today. Cabrera, a surefire Hall-of-Famer, made his MLB debut in 2003 and has amassed more than 3,000 hits and 500 RBIs. Dusty Baker met Miguel Cabrera at home plate alongside fellow Venezuelans Jose Altuve and Luis Garcia to present Cabrera with a massive bottle of wine and a cowboy hat.
Cesar Salazar made his first MLB start behind the plate for Houston. The 27-year-old from Mexico finished the day 0-for-4.
Lance McCullers Jr. continues to be encouraged by the pace of his recovery, noting that he hopes to “push the envelope a little bit” in his throwing sessions, but does not want to rush.
Houston gets its first day off day of the young season on Thursday before opening up a three-game series with the Twins in Minnesota on Friday. Jose Urquidy will start Friday’s game on the mound for the Astros. The Twins will counter with Sonny Gray.