It was a dominating performance by the Tigers.
Detroit lit up Astros pitchers for 21 hits and starter Max Scherzer pitched eight innings, giving up just three hits and one run while striking out eight as the Tigers rolled over the Astros, 17-2, at Minute Maid Park on Saturday.
“What you witnessed was why they were the American League champions last year,” manager Bo Porter said. “They rolled out their A game and it was pretty impressive.”
Lucas Harrell has been the Astros’ best overall pitcher this season, but the right-hander dug himself a deep hole early when he gave up six runs in the first two innings. In the first, he allowed five hits, including three straight singles to Austin Jackson, Torii Hunter and Miguel Cabrera to lead off the game. In the second, Harrell allowed three more hits, including a two-run home run to Cabrera. He finished the night with two homers, which was his 26th career multi-HR game, and six RBI for the fifth time in his career.
“I’m really not all that mad about it,” Harrell said. “I felt like I kept them off balance and they had a lot of weak contact. They just placed the ball in the right spot. It was just one of those days even when you make a good pitch, they still get a hit. So, I felt like I mixed it up with them pretty good and I felt like I threw a couple good curve balls in there, too.”
“I thought Harrell was making his pitches,” Astros first baseman/designated hitter Carlos Pena said. “They were at first getting some hits that looped in and they started getting better swings. I didn’t think they were bad pitches at all. They were just hitting them, and it was impressive.”
Harrell lasted just 4 1/3 innings, allowing 10 hits and eight runs while walking four and striking out three. His ERA fell from 3.60 to 5.03.
“They had a good plan,” Porter said. “They were on the attack from the word ‘Go,’ and you’re talking about some pretty good hitters that got pitches in the strike zone and they didn’t miss.”
On the Tigers’ side, Scherzer had his way with Astros batters. After a leadoff single in the first, he retired the next 16 batters before allowing a hit and a walk in the sixth and a solo home run in the seventh.
“This guy was on – a lot of velocity, fastball in the high 90s and then also a lot of sink, a lot of movement," Pena said. "He pounded the strike zone."
“He was in command the entire time,” Porter said. “He pitched ahead in the count, moved the ball in and out and made quality pitches the whole night.”
And on a night like this, the veteran Pena has some good advice for this young Astros team.
“We try to look at it as we lost 1-0,” Pena said. “It’s the mind games you must play with yourself to keep yourself focused and not carry unnecessary baggage because tomorrow we have to come back ready to play. So, why put all that stuff on top of us and beat ourselves down so that takes away from us tomorrow? We have to be smart with the way we look at things and how we react to the negative stuff that happens like tonight.”