Much like game one of the series against the Boston Red Sox, Houston got the scoring started early in a powerful 4-2 victory over the Sox at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday night.
The Astros scored all of their runs via the long ball as Preston Tucker had his first career multi-homer game. Evan Gattis also sent one into the seats to plate all of the Houston runs off of Boston starter Joe Kelly. In the first, Tucker sent his seventh homer of the season into left-center field to open up the scoring at 1-0. In the fourth, Gattis joined the home run club with his 16th of the year, a solo shot, into the Crawford Boxes to give Houston a 2-0 lead. Then in the fifth, Tucker pulled his eighth homer of the year, his second on the night, into right field with a runner on first to give the Astros, and Collin McHugh, a 4-0 lead. Astros manager A.J. Hinch spoke to the media after the game about the rookie Tucker, “He’s got a pretty good track record in the minors of hitting for some doubles and some home runs. When you go to that part of this yard (left-center field) on a line, the ball goes off the bat, I’m thinking double, and make sure De Aza doesn’t run the ball down, and the ball ends up halfway up the wall.” It was the seventh time this season that Houston has had a player hit multiple homers in a game. It was the 39th time this season that Houston had multiple team homers in a game. Houston is 34-5 in those games.
The Red Sox quickly answered back though with two runs of their own in the top half of the sixth. Catcher Blake Swihart led-off the inning with a single and Dustin Pedroia doubled him home into the right-center field gap. Brock Holt and Xander Bogaerts followed with singles and Pedroia was able to cut the lead to 4-2.
Kelly (2-6) was making his first start for Boston since being optioned to AAA-Pawtucket on June 26th and went 5.1 innings allowing four runs on six hits and striking out six Astros in the start. Hinch mentioned after the game that the key was making Kelly throw a lot of pitches early, “We hit three homers tonight, we scored all of our runs on the home run. I thought our at-bats early were pretty good. Our discipline was nice, we made him throw a lot of pitches.”
Collin McHugh, who won his 11th, didn’t give up his first hit of the ball game until the leadoff hitter of the fifth but did yield two runs on seven hits with four strikeouts in seven complete for the Astros. McHugh gave up singles to Shane Victorino and Mike Napoli to leadoff the seventh but kept his composure to get a force out on a bunt, a pop out, and a strikeout of Holt to strand the tying run at first base. “He’s a pretty calm guy in the middle of his competition which is good. I thought he threw the ball exceptionally well early. They got four straight hits and he retired the side without them opening it up too big,” said Hinch of his number two starter. Pat Neshek came out of the bullpen and pitched a scoreless eighth before giving the ball to Luke Gregerson in the ninth, who earned his 20th save.