Houston (CBS HOUSTON) – The bullpen has not been the best thing about the Houston Astros since the all-star break.
In 19 games since the midsummer classic, the Astros bullpen has racked up an ERA over six making them the worst in the major leagues.
Part of that is the team is dealing with injuries, Will Harris has been on the DL twice since mid-July, and the other part of the problem is over use, only 9 times during this stretch has a starter made it into the 6th inning.
Thursday while Collin McHugh would make it through six innings, the bullpen still would haunt the Astros.
Leading 3-2 heading into the seventh inning, manager A.J Hinch turned to the bullpen to get the final nine outs. Instead, newly acquired Francisco Liriano allowed two base runners. Chris Devenski would come in to try and get the Astros out of the jam, but after an error by Alex Bregman and a Steven Souza double down the line, the Rays would go up 5-3.
“I have a ton of confidence, I haven’t lost one ounce of confidence in our bullpen,” A.J. Hinch said. “We’re going to be good.”
The Astros tried to get back into the game, but solid defense by the Rays shut them down.
With two outs in the seventh, Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman were both in scoring position after a double steal put them on third and second respectively, but Yuli Gurriel would run into some hard luck when he’d line out to right field ending the inning.
“We hit a lot of balls hard and we definitely didn’t get in luck,” Jose Altuve said. “They were diving for balls and (Evan) Longoria making some crazy plays.”
Throughout the four game series, the Rays were making outstanding catches at the wall, turning double plays or making diving grabs, Thursday was no different.
Altuve who was held hitless for the first two games in August had three hits Thursday including a solo home run in the third inning to put the Astros up 2-1.
Bregman who was batting second also had three hits, and his single in the fifth inning drove in Jake Marisnick to give their third run of the game.
McHugh started his third game of the season and was able to earn his second straight quality start, pitching six innings allowing five hits and two runs (one earned), while walking two and striking out six.
“To be able to get through 100 pitches, with pretty much just fastball and slider every once in a while, I thought it was good,” Collin McHugh said of his outing.