HOUSTON, TEXAS – SEPTEMBER 15: Aledmys Diaz #16 of the Houston Astros high fives Jeremy Pena #3 after hitting a two run home run in the seventh inning against the Oakland Athletics at Minute Maid Park on September 15, 2022 in Houston, Texas. Select players are wearing the number 21 in honor of Roberto Clemente Day. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
The Astros had a spectacular outing from starting pitcher Lance McCullers, Jr. and some timely hitting from Christian Vazquez and Aledmys Diaz to give the Astros a 5-2 victory over Oakland on Thursday night. McCullers was excellent on the mound, going 6 innings, allowing two hits, two earned runs and striking out 11 on 99 pitches. When it seemed like the Astros bats wouldn’t be able to catch up, they did in a big way tonight with Aledmys Diaz and Kyle Tucker leading them to the 5-2 victory.
Through the first two innings of play, no one on the Oakland Athletics could seem to solve McCullers. McCullers had 5 strikeouts in the first two innings of play and was absolutely dealing with his curveball and slider. Danielle Lerner of the Houston Chronicle tweeted out some pretty impressive stats for McCullers through two innings: striking out 7 out of 11 Athletics, which matched his career high when he struck out 7 Angels in 5 2/3 innings on Sept. 2. He was nothing but phenemoemenal on the mound tonight in the early going.
The Astros made sure McCullers’ spectacular pitching would not go down in vain in the third inning however as Yordan Alvarez drove in Chas McCormick, who had walked earlier in the inning to give the Astros the lead 1-0. It was nice to see Alvarez back in the lineup after he explained to the media yesterday that his hand was fine.
McCullers did run into a tight jam in the 4th inning loading the bases and allowing 2 runs to give Oakland the lead 2-1 with only one out. He was already a 67 pitches by this point. But he was able to strike out Oakland’s Nick Allen to end the threat with two men on and two outs.
The Astros got on the board again, thanks to a Trey Mancini double and then a Christian Vazquez RBI double to tie the game up at two apeice in the bottom of the 4th inning.
McCuller continued to keep the Oakland bats pretty much silent and then handed the reins to Seth Martinez, who came into relieve McCullers in the 7th. Martinez limited the Athletics from doing any damage to close out the inning.
After Chas McCormick grounded out to the begin the 7th inning, Jeremy Peña was able to reach first on a single, which set up the stage for Diaz to do something special and he did do something special indeed, cranking a home run to left field to give the Astros a 4-2 lead, his 11th on the year. Kyle Tucker drove in Alavarez to make it 5-2 Astros.
Rafael Montero came into close the game for the Astros in the 9th to preserve the Astros victory.
News and Notes:
Player of The Year: Hunter Brown is your Minor League Player of the Year, Baseball America announced today.
New Turf Coming to Minute Maid Park: Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston is reporting that the Astros will install brand new turf during the final homestand of the season.
He’s back: The Astros will play Oakland again Friday night at 7:10 CT with Justin Verlander making his long awaited return to the mound for the Astros (16-3, 1.84 ERA) vs. Oakland’s Adrían Martininez (4-4, 5.59 ERA)