Houston (CBS HOUSTON) – Friday night the Houston Astros were locked into a pitching duel with the Boston Red Sox but ended up on the losing side of a 2-1 final score.
Mike Fiers over the past month has been one of the better pitchers in all of baseball. Once on the outside looking in for a job in the starting rotation, Fiers has bounced back incredibly and been one of the more steady pitching hands as injuries continued to mount on the Astros staff.
Against the Red Sox, Fiers once again stayed consistent for the Astros, providing the team with seven innings only allowing one earned run.
Friday, Fiers run into his most trouble early. In the third inning, the Red Sox started to get going a little bit going, with two outs and runners on the corners Mitch Moreland singled to give them the 1-0 lead. Fiers would walk the next batter, before ending the inning with a ground out.
“He did pitch himself out of that traffic in the inning that they score, but it’s a really good outing for Mike (Fiers),” manager A.J. Hinch said. “He continues to put really good starts and give us a chance to win.”
In the last turn through the starting rotation, Fiers is the only Astros pitcher who’s been able to go seven innings. Over the past six starts (including Friday) the right-hander has a 2.25 ERA.
Fiers over the next four innings shut down the Red Sox holding them to just one hit.
“I was locked in all game, I felt really good,” Mike Fiers said. “Just another game of getting ahead in the count and being the aggressor, not letting these guys get into too many hitters counts and putting away as early as I can.”
While Fiers was pitching a solid game, the problem for him so was his counterpart on the other team, lefty Drew Pomeranz would keep the Astros off the scoreboard and hold them to just four hits and one earned one over his 6.1 innings of work.
A Brian McCann solo shot with an out in the sixth would be all the offense could muster against the left-hander.
“He did a good job of hanging out on the outer parts of the strike zone, we chased a little bit, he got a few calls to go his way, and he continued to execute his pitches and his gameplan,” Hinch said of Pomeranz.
After the homer by McCann, the Red Sox pulled Pomeranz in favor of flamethrower Joe Kelly.
The offense put up some good at-bats and would end up with runners on the corners with two outs. Nori Aoki would pinch hit for Jake Marisnick and after a long nine-pitch at-bat he’d line out to third ending the inning and the scoring chance, but not before tieing the game 1-1.
Will Harris in the top of the following inning on the very first pitch would give up the lead when Mookie Betts launched a solo shot to left.
“Cutter away, I don’t think it was on the black,” Will Harris said of his pitch to Betts. “It was the pitch I wanted to make, but like I said, he got me (Friday), try again (Saturday).”
Harris may have given up what ended up being the game-winning run, but a key play in the sixth inning might have turned things around for the Astros.
After getting the first two outs of the sixth Pomeranz would walk George Springer and Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa would follow with a sharp single right to Betts in right field. Third base coach Gary Pettis would send Springer home, but he’d end up getting thrown out pretty easily.
“Getting thrown out by that distance, your betting on a mistake a little bit,” Hinch said of the send call. “Betts made a nice throw and they make the play.”
It wasn’t a game costing error in the sixth inning but it was certainly a run-scoring chance the Astros wouldn’t capitalize on.