HOUSTON — Captivating the Minute Maid Park crowd for a second game in a row, Carlos Correa hit two doubles and scored two runs while Collin McHugh was stellar in eight innings of two-hit ball, propelling the Astros to a 3-1 win in the series finale on Sunday against the Yankees.
McHugh and Yankees starter Michael Pineda were locked in a pitchers’ duel until Correa’s seventh-inning double and Evan Gattis‘ ensuing RBI triple broke a 1-1 deadlock. McHugh struck out eight in his second consecutive eight-inning start, retiring 17 of the final 18 hitters he faced.
“I have them the fourth game in the series and I think it works in our favor, being able to know the hitters a little bit, knowing their tendencies, what they’re trying to do, not trying to do,” McHugh said.
After surrendering a single to leadoff hitter George Springer in the first, Pineda retired nine in a row before Correa’s fourth-inning double and an ensuing error tied the score at 1 on an unearned run. Like McHugh, Pineda was working with an overtaxed bullpen, and he was gritty through eight innings with eight strikeouts.
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Correa crushes: Correa hit a towering double in the fourth between Brett Gardner and Garrett Jones — only the Astros’ second hit off Pineda — and he made it all the way home with the help of Gardner’s error. Correa repeated course in the seventh, torching Pineda’s second pitch for a two-bagger down the left-field line and coming in to score on Gattis’ team-high third triple. Correa’s average now sits at .314 through his first 20 games — he’s the only Astros starter to be hitting over .300. More >
“When the ball dropped I just kept running,” Correa said of the fourth-inning hit. “Really exhausted, but it was really fun to be able to tie the game. I was watching the ball the whole time; when it dropped, I just put my head down and just ran all the way. I can move a little bit, even though I’m tall.”
Sharp effort for Big Mike: Pineda’s last seven starts had been inconsistent, as he produced just a 3-4 record and a 6.10 ERA over that span, but he recaptured his form in Houston. Pineda faced the minimum through three innings and held the Astros to just an unearned run until the seventh. Pineda had his swing-and-miss stuff, trusting the depth of his slider to help record eight strikeouts without a walk.
“I thought he had good stuff from the beginning,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “I thought all three pitches were effective today. It’s unfortunate because he pitched a really good game. Most days we’re going to score more runs than that and he’s going to win.”
McHugh preserves bullpen: Needing to pitch deep into the game for the sake of an overworked ‘pen, McHugh turned in eight solid innings, holding the Yankees to two hits and keeping the potent lineup off balance with a curveball early then a cutter throughout the middle innings. He’s 3-0 with a 2.45 ERA in his last three starts and 16-3 dating back to Aug. 1, 2014.
“He was fantastic,” said Astros manager A.J. Hinch. “As dominant as we can ask him to be. Had every pitch working, his command, his high cutter, his finish fastball, his breaking ball early was good, the emotion at the end to finish in the eighth inning — all really good signs for him and something that’s a great boost to our team. A tremendous pitching performance.”
Gardner’s hot run continues: Gardner walked to lead off the game and singled home the lone Yankees run in the third inning, continuing his hot stretch. Over his last 10 games, Gardner is batting .488 (22-for-45) with 10 extra-base hits (four homers) and 15 runs scored, but he walked out of Minute Maid Park kicking himself about the fourth-inning Correa misplay.
“You can’t afford to make those kinds of mistakes when you’re facing a guy that’s throwing the ball as well as McHugh was today,” Gardner said. “Just frustrating, as good as Big Mike pitched. It’s frustrating we couldn’t get the win for him.”
“We had to scratch and claw for a little bit of everything, had to manufacture a couple things. We won a close game without homering, that’s noteworthy. We just did a lot of good things to win a ballgame today.” — Hinch
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McHugh became the sixth American League pitcher to reach nine wins — joining teammate Dallas Keuchel. The Astros are the only team in the AL with two pitchers who have nine or more wins.
Yankees: Left-hander CC Sabathia (3-7, 5.65 ERA) looks to snap a string of three straight no-decisions on Monday as the Yankees open a three-game series with the Angels in Anaheim at 10:05 p.m. ET. Sabathia beat the Angels in New York on June 7, surviving first-inning homers from Mike Trout and Albert Pujols. Left-hander C.J. Wilson (5-6, 3.92 ERA) will make the start for the Halos.
Astros: Rookie Lance McCullers (3-2, 2.33 ERA) will open a three-game set against Kansas City on Monday at 7:10 p.m. CT at Minute Maid Park. He’s coming off a six-inning, six-strikeout performance against the Angels. McCullers’ 52 strikeouts are the second-most recorded by an Astros pitcher through his first eight games.