Astros celebrate Astrodome in style by blanking Angels
By Alden Gonzalez and Brian McTaggart
HOUSTON -- George Springer led off the sixth inning by blasting his first home run of the season to break up a scoreless duel, and Robbie Grossman hit a three-run homer in in the seventh to send the Astros to a 4-0 win over the Angels on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park.
Keuchel (2-0) continued his terrific start to the season by throwing six scoreless innings, allowing two hits and three walks while striking out seven batters. He's allowed only two runs in 20 innings he's pitched this season.
"Those home runs came at some key points," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "I think George, especially, woke up the crowd, woke up the bench and really ignited everybody after a good pitching performance with less than ideal stuff for Keuchel."
Wilson (1-2) carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning before Jose Altuve beat out an infield hit with two outs. Reliever Mike Morin replaced Wilson with two outs in the seventh and gave up Grossman's three-run shot, which followed an intentional walk to Altuve. More >
"It was a pitch that was elevated," Morin said. "It's a two-seamer that didn't sink very much. It's something you definitely have to be cautious with, whether it's a good power hitter or not. I didn't execute the pitch, bottom line."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Springer, Grossman go deep for first time: Springer belted his first home run of the season, sending a no-doubt shot over the left-field wall to lead off the sixth inning against C.J. Wilson for the first runs of the game. Grossman followed his lead with a three-run shot in the seventh -- his first of the season. More >
"At that point in the game, when you're scratching across some hits, obviously I was trying to get on base, but the biggest at-bat of the night was [Jake] Marisnick in the seventh inning," Springer said. "He got things going and then Altuve got walked and [Grossman] hit a huge homer."
Offensive struggles continue: The Angels were shut out for the first time this season -- and shut out on the road for the first time since July 13, 2013 -- after mustering only three hits and striking out 13 times. Mike Trout snapped his 10-game hitting streak to start the season and Albert Pujols dropped his batting average to .154 with an 0-for-4, two-strikeout performance. The Angels' on-base percentage is now just .280, which ranks 24th in the Majors.
"We haven't hit stride offensively, and that's easy to see," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Some guys have been driving the ball well, and we've kept our heads above water on the offensive side, but we haven't been able to pressure teams the way we need to."
Keuchel shines again: Keuchel has been nothing short of fantastic through three starts, improving to 2-0 by throwing six scoreless innings. He's allowed only two runs this season, and both of them came in the seventh inning against the Rangers on Sunday. He has lowered his ERA to 0.90. More >
"It's so easy to watch Dallas Keuchel compete and put up zeroes and just assume that he's functioning perfectly because you're so used to it," Hinch said. "He really goes through lineups and competes his way through."
Positive signs for Wilson: Wilson took the loss, but he pitched well, getting charged with two runs on three hits and four walks in 6 2/3 innings, striking out eight. The 34-year-old left-hander had "a little bit of everything" working. His only glaring mistake was a hanging changeup to Springer, and he came out with only a 1-0 deficit in the seventh, after giving up a two-out single to Jake Marisnick. Wilson's ERA is at 3.54.
"It's a 307-foot fly ball. He just hit it in the right spot. Give him credit for hitting it, but placement was key there." -- Scioscia on Grossman's home run, which was lifted over the tall left-field scoreboard that's 315 feet from home plate
"You saw what he could do last night. He's a game-changer. They've got a couple of guys in their lineup who are game-changers. We just had to make sure we execute, especially against him." -- Astros catcher Hank Conger on former teammate Trout, who went 0-for-4 a night after hitting two homers
CELEBRATING THE PAST
Before the game, the Astros held a ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Astrodome -- the franchise's previous home. Several former players who played on the Astros' team from the first year of the Astrodome (1965) were on hand to catch the ceremonial first pitch from NASA astronauts. More >
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Angels pitchers have been responsible for five of the team's six errors this season. Jered Weaver committed one when he dropped a flip from Albert Pujols on Friday, and Wilson recorded one on an errant pickoff throw on Saturday.
The Angels' game-long frustrations with the strike zone boiled over in the seventh, when Collin Cowgill was tossed shortly after a caught-looking strikeout to end the top half of the inning. Cowgill dropped his bat and slumped his shoulders in disgust, then shook off his ankle guard and watched it fly in Nauert's direction, seemingly prompting the ejection. Cowgill was replaced by Efren Navarro in left field for the rest of the game. More >
"I was taking my shin guard off and it got Velcro stuck to my pant leg and I tried to shake it off and it flung off and it landed at his feet and he threw me out of the game," Cowgill said. "That's exactly how it went down. It was a 100-percent accident. An unfortunate accident."
WHAT'S NEXT Angels: Garrett Richards, eight months removed from suffering a ruptured left patellar tendon, makes his return in Sunday's series finale from Minute Maid Park. Prior to the season-ending knee injury at Fenway Park on Aug. 20. the 26-year-old right-hander was 13-4 with a 2.61 ERA and making a case for the American League Cy Young Award. Game time is 11:10 a.m. PT on Fox Sports West. More >
Astros: Coming off one of his worst starts in recent memory, veteran right-hander Scott Feldman closes out the Astros' week-long homestand by getting the ball against the Angels in Sunday's series finale at 12:10 CT at Minute Maid Park. Feldman was terrific in beating the Indians on April 8 and then was rocked for seven earned runs in five innings Monday against Oakland.