HOUSTON (CBS HOUSTON) — Doug Fister had $1 million on the line when he took the mound Tuesday night.
If the right-hander lasted at least 6 2/3 innings against the Yankees, he would reach 125 innings pitched in 2016 and trigger another $1 million bonus from his one-year contract signed this past offseason.
He did not pitch like a million bucks.
Despite Marwin Gonzalez’s first career multi-homer game, New York took the game and series win from Houston by scoring six runs off Fister in a 6-3 romp in Minute Maid Park.
In arguably his worst start to date during an otherwise consistent campaign, Fister was erratic and out of rhythm against an aggressive Yankees lineup.
“Pretty veteran over there and they know what I do,” Fister said. “I didn’t execute today and basically let my team down.”
The visitors piled up nine hits off Fister through 4 2/3 innings, tied for his shortest outing of the season. After a nine-pitch first inning, Fister issued three walks and needed 84 pitches to record his next 11 outs while surrendering Houston’s early 1-0 lead.
Gonzalez opened the scoring with an impressive solo shot above left-field’s Crawford Boxes, and he added his 10th homer of 2016 with an eighth-inning solo job to right field.
Gonzalez was the first Astros player to homer from both sides of the plate in one game since Lance Berkman against the Cubs on July 3, 2006.
That was about the only success Houston found against Yankees starter CC Sabathia. The burly southpaw halted a rough five-start stretch by showing the Astros his vintage form.
“We never pieced anything together against him,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “Just ouldn’t get back-to-back runners on.”
The former Cy Young winner fooled the Astros with a slew of breaking balls and struck out five in 6 2/3 innings of two-run ball. Evan Gattis ended Sabathia’s outing with a towering seventh-inning solo homer, his fourth in four games.
It was still more than enough to outduel Fister, who tied his season-worst by allowing six runs.
“Wasn’t one of my better nights, by any means,” Fister said.
The heavy damage came in the fifth, when New York knocked Fister out with three two-out runs, led by nine-hole hitter Aaron Hicks’ two-run double.
Chris Devenski, Tony Sipp and Michael Feliz combined for 4 1/3 innings of shutout ball, allowing Jason Castro to bat as the go-ahead run with the bases loaded in the eighth. He struck out to end the threat.
LSU product and former No. 2 overall pick Alex Bregman is still hitless through eight Major-League plate appearances after going 0-for-3 with a walk, drawing a pair of eight-plus pitch counts.
“There’s no declarative big at-bat I need to see for me to believe in him,” Hinch said. “I believe in him on the front end. He’ll learn that success will come his way if he keeps putting up good at-bats.”
It was a dispiriting game beyond the result for the Astros, who may have lost a key lineup cog to injury.
Infielder Luis Valbuena took a scary spill running to first during the second inning, lying face first in agony after straining his right hamstring. He is day-to-day, the team announced.
The Astros did not lose any ground on the first-place Rangers, staying 3.5 games back of them in the American League West. Houston wraps up the homestand and looks to salvage a game this series vs. the Yankees on Wednesday with Lance McCullers on the mound.