By Chris Abshire and Richard Dean
Speical to MLB.com |
HOUSTON -- The Astros chased Corey Kluber during a five-run third inning to beat the Indians, 7-1, on Monday in the first game of a three-game series at Minute Maid Park. Jose Altuve's two-run double and Colby Rasmus' two-run single highlighted Houston's third inning.
"On a night where they had only eight hits, they had five and a walk in that span," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "That ended up being too much for us."
Houston starter Mike Fiers allowed only one run and three hits over seven innings. The Astros have gone 4-1 in Fiers' last five starts and the team has won five of its last seven games.
"It's good to get on a roll," Fiers said. "Just build off of each start and just win games, really, as a team. I was able to keep them to one run. The bullpen came in, we made some great defensive plays to keep me in that game longer. I feel good. It feels better to get into midseason form and kind of put April behind us."
The Indians scored their run in the sixth when Rajai Davis, who led off the inning with a double, scored on a Jason Kipnis groundout. Jose Ramirez added a double -- losing his helmet in the process -- for the Indians, who had won five of their previous six games but managed only three hits on Monday.
Altuve collected three RBIs, and Luis Valbuena had two hits and scored twice for the Astros. Kluber's 2 2/3-inning outing was his shortest since 2014.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Getting offensive: The Astros couldn't manage a hit off Kluber in the first two innings, but the bats came alive in a five-run third inning with Houston's first six batters reaching base -- five hits and a walk. The big blows were Altuve's two-run double, scoring Valbuena and Jason Castro, and Rasmus' bases-loaded single, scoring Altuve and George Springer. Carlos Correa scored on Marwin Gonzalez's groundout, giving the Astros a 5-0 lead. Kluber, who struck out the side in the first inning on 12 pitches, exited the game after walking Carlos Gomez with two outs in the third. More >
"We put up seven really tough at-bats against him in the third inning and ended up with five runs, and not all of them were perfect at-bats. But they were all competitive at-bats and none of them left the yard. It showed we can put up at-bat after at-bat after at-bat with a purpose and not sit back and rely on the three-run homer," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said.
Kluber KO'd: Asked about his ace prior to Monday's game, Francona was understandably optimistic and even compared Kluber's recent outings to his 2014 Cy Young form. That came to a screeching halt on Monday. The Astros rocked him in the third, preventing him from reaching the fourth inning for just the third time in his career as a starter and first since Sept. 1, 2014 vs. Detroit. The Indians are just 2-5 in Kluber's starts this season. More >
"It's frustrating if it happened in the third, first, sixth inning, whatever," Kluber said. "I didn't want to put the team in that big of a hole. I didn't do my job."
Altuve, Correa stand out on defense: Altuve and Correa are known mainly for their hitting, but both came up with spectacular defensive plays in the early innings. From his second-base position, Altuve barehanded a grounder going to his right to throw out Michael Brantley at first base leading off the second inning. Correa's gem at shortstop was also impressive. With a shift on for the left-handed-hitting Lonnie Chisenhall, Correa extended himself in making a leaping catch to rob Chisenhall of a sure hit leading off the third. More >
"I didn't trust Carlos to make the play so I went in front of him and barehanded the play," Altuve said jokingly. "Honestly, I didn't realize Carlos was behind me and made the play."
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Astros won their second consecutive game without hitting a home run. It's the first time Houston has won two games in a row without going deep since Sept. 9-10, 2014, at Seattle.
WHAT'S NEXT Indians:Trevor Bauer gets the ball for Cleveland at 8:10 p.m. ET on Tuesday, and it will be his first start in Houston since the 2015 season-opening series. Bauer had 11 strikeouts and a no-hitter going through six innings in that start but was lifted due to a high pitch count stemming from five walks. Bauer is making just his third start of 2016. He is 2-0, but sports a 5.14 ERA in eight appearances.
Astros:Chris Devenski is set to make his third Major League start as the series continues on Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. CT. Devenski took a no-decision in his last start, throwing six innings of one-run ball in Houston's 6-3 loss to the Mariners on Thursday. After being called up on April 7, the 25-year-old right-hander made six relief appearances for the Astros before replacing Scott Feldman in the rotation.