Beltran hits first HR
(c) Associated Press
The Astros and Angels didn't provide a lot of offense on getaway Thursday at Minute Maid Park but a 2-1 win by the home team sent 21,173 paying customers home happy and entertained.
Astros starter Lance McCullers was in control from the outset, and, with the exception of one bad pitch to Carlos Beltran in the first inning, so was Matt Shoemaker. McCullers kept the Halos out of the hit column until Andrelton Simmons singled to lead off the fifth inning.
Beltran, hitting in the second spot in the order for the first time this season, squared up a 2-2 pitch over the heart of the plate and drove it into the rightfield seats to put Houston on top early. Beltran's first home run of the season accounted for the only run of the game until Jake Marisnick launched a 441-foot homer off Shoemaker with two outs and nobody on base in the fifth.
The Astros managed only three hits off Shoemaker over seven innings but, fortunately, two of those hits left the yard. McCullers held the Angels to three hits over 6-2/3 innings and was relieved by Chris Devenski after surrendering back-to-back walks in the seventh. Devo got out of the inning by striking out Danny Espinosa to preserve Houston's 2-0 lead.
Devenski needed only seven pitches to retire the Angels in order in the eighth and manager A.J. Hinch sent the uber-reliever back out to pitch the ninth. After getting ahead of Mike Trout with two quick strikes, Devo hung a change-up over the middle and the reigning American League M.V.P. made him pay -- depositing the mistake into the Crawford Boxes to cut the lead to 2-1.
The Halos continued to rally, getting runners to second and third with only one out, prompting Hinch to send Ken Giles to the bullpen to get warmed up. But, determined to finish things off, Devenski rebounded to strike out Cameron Maybin and Espinosa to seal the deal and notch his first save of the season.
The win secured a 3-1 series victory for the first place Astros who now head out on a six-game road trip starting in Tampa and culminating in Cleveland against the defending A.L. champs. A well-rested Mike Fiers gets the start in Friday's 6:10 opener against Alex Cobb and the Rays at "The Punch Bowl". Fiers last pitched on April 12th in Seattle and was hit pretty hard, giving up five runs and six hits in four innings of work. The 9-8 Rays have won three straight, having just completed a home sweep of the Tigers.
- Greg Thurston