30 dancing! 1-hit shutout lifts Astros to 30th win
By Brian McTaggart and Jason Beck
HOUSTON -- It took stellar pitching, air-tight defense and one timely hit to get the Astros back on track Monday night at Minute Maid Park.
Four Astros pitchers, led by 4 1/3 innings from starter Brad Peacock, combined to throw Houston's first one-hitter in nearly four years and made Jose Altuve's first-inning RBI double stand up for a 1-0 win over the Tigers, snapping a three-game losing streak and becoming the first team in the Majors to reach 30 wins.
Peacock made a spot start in place of ace Dallas Keuchel, who was placed on the disabled list Saturday with a pinch nerve in his neck. Peacock had eight strikeouts, including striking out the side on 12 pitches in the first, and walked two while throwing 70 pitches.
"I just felt great out there tonight," Peacock said. "I haven't felt like that in a long time."
Astros relievers Chris Devenski (2 2/3 innings), Will Harris and Ken Giles (one each) combined for 4 2/3 hitless innings to finish Houston's first one-hitter since a 4-2 loss against Seattle on July 20, 2013. The only hit the weary Tigers, who arrived in Houston around 5 a.m. CT Monday, managed was a third-inning single by Mikie Mahtook.
"That was an excellent effort in production," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "Everything you could ask for going into the game, just by being able to get into the fifth is one thing, and get into the fifth with all those punchouts and really keeping the game under control is another. And on top of that, it's a one-run game. That's a pretty special performance."
Tigers starter Michael Fulmer (5-2) was the tough-luck losing pitcher, allowing one run on eight hits in seven innings. He had won his previous three starts, pitching at least seven innings each time. He has nine consecutive quality starts to open the season.
"We're kind of getting accustomed to him going out there and giving us a chance to win on an every-five-day basis," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "Today was nothing different. We just couldn't score any runs."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Altuve stays hot: Altuve extended his hitting streak to eight games by bouncing an RBI double inside the third-base line in the first, scoring George Springer from first base.
"I thought I threw a good changeup to him," Fulmer said. "I threw it right where I wanted to. I wanted to throw it inside to him, and, hopefully, drop it out of the strike zone. I felt like I got it there. Hopefully, he was going to swing over top of it, but he's a good hitter. He's going to put the ball in play. Ultimately, you just have to tip your cap."
Super Springer: The Astros played solid defense throughout, but no play was more impressive than Springer's diving, tumbling catch in center to rob Dixon Machado of a hit to lead off the sixth. According to Statcast™, the catch had a 73-percent catch probability (a 3-star catch), with Springer running 69 feet in 4.1 seconds to track down the ball.
"George makes the diving play in center, so if you're not going to get any hits, you draw a walk, you take away a hit -- I think that's what you're trying to do coming to the ballpark every day," Hinch said.
"We know we've got a tough schedule. We know May is going to be tough for us. If we can handle May, this hard schedule, I think we're going to be OK the rest of the season, because we already have three road trips of, like, 10 days. I think that's too much for a team that early, but we're going to grind. We're not going to put an excuse out there. I think we have to battle. I think we have to go out there and do our job better. Hopefully, we can get some rest today, come out tomorrow and try to be ready." -- first baseman Miguel Cabrera on Tigers' travel woes
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Fulmer's ninth quality start in as many outings tied him with Tommy Bridges for the second longest streak to begin a season in club history. Justin Verlander, who posted quality starts in his first 10 outings of 2011, holds the record.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
Hinch successfully challenged a stolen base in the fifth. Tigers center fielder Tyler Collins was originally called safe at second base ahead of Altuve's tag, but the call was overturned and Collins was ruled the second out of the inning.
WHAT'S NEXT Tigers:Jordan Zimmermann, who struck out six Orioles in six innings in his last start, will try to build on that with a matchup against the young, aggressive-swinging Astros on Tuesday at 8:10 p.m. ET. He has a scoreless streak of 15 1/3 consecutive innings against the Astros, but he hasn't faced them since April 30, 2014, while with the Nationals.
Astros: Right-hander Lance McCullers Jr. will start Tuesday's 7:10 p.m. CT game against the Tigers at Minute Maid Park. McCullers has the longest active scoreless inning streak in the American League at 17 innings, and hasn't allowed an earned run in three consecutive starts, all on the road.