The Astros have so thoroughly dominated Baltimore in recent years that two batters into Sunday’s game it was unusual to see the Orioles leading Lance McCullers Jr. 2-0 after a Jonathan Schoop home run.
However the Astros answered an early 3-0 deficit, with a six-run second inning and cruised to an 8-4 win over the Birds at Minute Maid Park to sweep a three-game series. Houston has also won six straight against Baltimore and 9 of their last 10 match-ups while improving to 35-16, a season best 19 games above .500.
“To fall behind like that, it is very easy to get into a lackluster game where we have already won the series, we have already come back from a start of the home stand being poor,” said manager A.J. Hinch. “But our guys kind of came out with an explosive inning.”
The second inning featured a team cycle with two singles, two doubles, a triple and a George Springer home run, his 11th of the year. Marwin Gonzalez provided the first double and two RBI’s to start the scoring. Yuli Gurriel followed with a double to left to score Gonzalez and tie the game at 3. Springer’s two-run homer put the Astros up for good. Before the inning would end Josh Reddick tripled and scored on a Jose Altuve single.
The Astros tacked on two more runs in the third inning for more separation to back Lance McCullers Jr., who improved to 6-1 despite allowing three runs, two earned in six innings of work. McCullers also struck out eight in the win.
The Astros finished the 10-game home stand 6-4 after losing the first three games to Cleveland.
“It is big when you get swept the first three games of the home stand,” McCullers Jr. said. “We fought back and played really well against Detroit taking three of four and then you finish by sweeping Baltimore.”
Hinch lauded his team’s deep roster and contributions from the entire team.
“We have a deep roster and we got a lot of guys that can step up and play the game well,” he said. “That gets tested throughout the year. This isn’t going to be the only time where we face a little adversity or get knocked down a little bit. It says we have a good team. For the first couple of months we have answered every challenge.”
The club will now hit the road for a Memorial Day matinee in Minnesota, the first of a ten-game trip.
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