Home cooking is always the best and on Monday evening, the Houston Astros feasted on Kansas City pitching at Minute Maid Park. Houston pounded out 14 hits enroute to an 8-2 opening home win marking the fourth consecutive season the Astros have won their home opener. Making it even more fun was that it happened against the Royals who barely seven moths ago knocked the Astros from the playoffs.
Jose Altuve and the Astros wasted little time getting things started at home against Royals starter Chris Young. The Houston second baseman led off the home half of the first with a base hit, stole second and came around to score on Carlos Correa’s RBI single. One batter later, Colby Rasmus powered a Chris Young pitch into the upper deck in right field sending the home crowd into a frenzy reminiscent of last October’s wildcard playoff series against this same Royals team. The power hitting left-handed clean-up hitter’s home run extended the franchise’s record setting streak to seven games matching the major league record of consecutive games with a home run to open a season.
“When you look down our line-up, when we’re really doing things right there’s a lot of quality at bats,” said manager A.J. Hinch after the game. “We worked in tandem very well today. We played with a chip on our shoulder.”
Leading 3-0 after one, the Astros continued to batter Young reaching him for three more runs on three more hits in the fourth. Consecutive extra base hits by Luis Valbuena and Jason Castro plated two more before Altuve’s second hit of the night made it 6-0. The Astros Silver Slugger award winner went three for four with a walk, three runs scored, an RBI and two stolen bases in the home opener.
Meanwhile Houston starter Colin McHugh was scattering eight hits over seven innings as he danced his way in and out of trouble, none more evident then in the seventh. With Houston leading 7-0 after a Correa’s RBI single in the bottom of the sixth, McHugh loaded the bases with one out and Mike Moustakas at the plate. It was the same Mike Moustakas last October energized the Royals to their improbable World Series run. This time McHugh induced the Rally Moose into a weak pop up to Correa and then set down Lorenzo Cain with a fly ball to right.
“For him (McHugh) to get through seven and have Sipp and Fields finish it was big,” continued Hinch when asked about his right-hander’s performance. “When the seventh inning developed, I thought Colin did a good job of settling things down. There were a couple of slow hit ground balls, there was play not made he made a big pop up to Correa. There was a moment in that game where they were one swing away from making it very, very interesting and he closed the door.”
McHugh, the Naperville, Illinois native improved to 27-8 since August 1, 2014 the second most wins in the majors. Only Chicago Cubs ace Jake Arrieta as been better with a mark of 28-9.
The Royals did reach the Astros pitching staff with a two run Kendrys Morales home run in the eighth off reliever Tony Sipp. It was as close as Kansas City would come to blowing out the candles on this 2016 opening party in Houston.
Springer’s RBI triple in the bottom of the inning closed out the scoring. Houston’s top four hitters accounted for 12 of the team’s 14 hits with six RBI’s and a couple of stolen bases.
Houston looks to continue the party on Tuesday night April 12th in a 7:10 tilt with the Royals.