Altuve shakes off injury to hit 20th homer
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In what can only be described as the craziest game of the season, the Astros overcame a terrible outing by Collin McHugh to post a blowout win in Baltimore Friday night.
George Springer led off the game with his 24th home run of the season. Baltimore's Wade Miley rebounded to strike out the next three batters and McHugh took the mound with a 1-0 lead and the responsibility of stopping a 5-game winning streak. Adam Jones duplicated Springer's leadoff dinger, as did four of the first five Orioles hitters. That's right, McHugh served up four home runs in a 5-run first inning. Oddly enough, the Asros banged out five hits in the second, chasing Baltimore starter Wade Miley and staking McHugh to a 6-5 lead as he returned to the mound.
McHugh inexplicably struck out the side in the second and the game suddenly seemed to return to a sense of order. After the Astros failed to take advantage of a couple of walks in the third, the Orioles retook the lead with two runs in the bottom of the frame, the second scoring on an extremely wild pitch by McHugh.
Alex Bregman's fourth inning single drove in Teoscar Hernandez to tie things up at seven runs apiece. Chris Devenski relieved McHugh in the fourth and proceeded to take over the game. The rookie right-hander allowed only one hit, a homer by Pedro Alvarez, in four innings of work while the Astros offense continued to produce.
The visitng Astros put crooked numbers on the board for three straight innings, turning the game into a laugher at the expense of the Orioles bullpen. Jose Altuve and Evan Gattis connected for home runs to build a 14-8 lead.
Hernandez added a bonus run with a ninth inning dinger while Pat Neshek and Brad Peacock successfully mopped up on the mound. The 15-run outburst was the most the Astros had scored since a 16-4 win over the Twins on May 4th.
Astros fans got a scare in the middle of the second inning when Altuve suffered a freak injury. After McHugh completed his warm-up pitches, Evan Gattis threw the ball to second, striking an inattentive Altuve squarely in the upper left side of his chest. The league's top hitter shook off the pain to blast his 20th homer of the season in a 3-hit night that included five RBIs.
Gattis, Hernandez, and Alex Bregman delivered three hits apiece and Springer tallied four in Houston's 18-hit attack. Although the offensive outburst was nice to See, Chris Devenski was the hero of the night. Devo earned his second win of the year with a sparkling performance that enabled A.J Hinch an opportunity to rest his "winning" bullpen pieces.
The two teams go back to work Saturday night at 6:05 CDT when Mike Fiers takes the mound against 15-game winner Chris Tillman. Although Friday night's act will be a tough one to follow, I have a strange feeling this one could be just as entertaining.
- Greg Thurston