Apr 1, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Astros right fielder Kyle Tucker (30) hits a RBI single against the Chicago White Sox in the first inning at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Clutch hitting, bullpen propel Astros to 6-4 victory over White Sox
The Houston Astros earned their second win of the season Saturday with a 6-4 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Jeremy Pena World Series MVP Bobblehead Day.
The Astros scored all six of their runs with two outs, and the bullpen finished the final five innings allowing only one run. Ryne Stanek earned his first win of the season.
Timely hitting carries Astros
Two-out RBIs always sting the defensive team the most, and the Astros laid four of them on the White Sox on Saturday.
Kyle Tucker and Chas McCormick each had two-out RBI singles in the first to give Houston a 2-0 lead. Jeremy Pena had a two-out RBI double to tie the game at 3 in the fourth, and Tucker laced a second two-out RBI single to put Houston ahead 4-3 in the seventh.
Yordan Alvarez, the runner who scored in the seventh, started the rally in the inning with a long single off the Crawford Boxes off Astros nemesis Joe Kelly. That single turned out to be the run that saddled Kelly with the loss, much to the delight of the Astros faithful, who vociferously booed Kelly from the minute he was introduced until he was removed.
In the eighth, Alvarez and Jose Abreu each had two-out RBI singles to push the lead to 6-3.
Bullpen on lockdown
The Astros pen was once again terrific, mimicking their 2022 season when they were the best bullpen in baseball.
Ronel Blanco gave the Astros two scoreless innings of relief. He did not allow a hit, walked one, and struck out four. Ryne Stanek was pushed a bit further than usual, pitching an inning and two-thirds; he allowed a walk and a hit. He was bailed out of a runners on the corners and two-out jam by Hector Neris, who entered the game in the top of the eighth and struck out Elvis Andrus to strand the runners.
Neris would allow a broken-bat RBI single in the ninth on a weakly hit shallow fly ball.
Combined, Astros relievers pitched five innings, allowing just one run on three hits. They walked three and struck out seven.
Rough start for Urquidy
Astros starter Jose Urquidy struggled with consistency on Saturday and was unable to get beyond the fourth innings.
Urquidy did induce some soft contact and struck out five, however, he allowed a pair of home runs and left with a 3-2 deficit after four innings. Urquidy allowed a career-high 1.6 HR/9 last season and was unable to keep the ball in the park today as well.
Urquidy needed 82 pitches to get through four innings, throwing 53 for strikes. He allowed seven hits and a walk in addition to the five strikeouts.
News and Notes
Jeremy Pena and Kyle Tucker were awarded their Gold Glove trophies before the game.
It was Jeremy Pena Bobblehead day at Minute Maid Park, celebrating the shortstop’s 2022 World Series MVP performance.
Astros center fielder Chas McCormick got his first start of the season Saturday, going 1-for-2 with two walks and an RBI. He also notched a stolen base. McCormick has been the most productive center fielder the Astros have had over the past couple of seasons.
Former Houston Cougar, Corpus Christi Hook, and Sugar Land Space Cowboy Corey Julks, who hails from Friendswood, got his first start in left field Saturday for the Astros. He went 1-for-4 with a run scored.
Hector Neris closed out the game for the Astros as they built a 6-3 lead in the eighth. The extra lead allowed Dusty Baker not to use closer Ryan Pressly. Neris entered the game with two outs in the eighth and finished the game for the save, his first of the season.
The Astros look for their third straight win and to take the opening series from the Chicago White Sox Sunday at 1:10 p.m. CT at Minute Maid Park. Luis Garcia (15-8, 3.72 ERA 2022) opposes Mike Clevinger (7-7, 4.33 ERA 2022) in the series finale.