Astros starter Edgar Gonzalez hadn’t pitched in a major league game since 2009. Despite pitching just 5.1 innings today, he looked like an ace against the Pirates. Jeff Locke struggled a bit in his first start of the year, and the Pirates’ offense wasn’t any help.
The Astros started the game with 3 straight hits off of Locke to load the bases with no outs. A forceout at home and 2 groundouts helped Locke out of the inning with just 1 run of damage. In the 3rd inning, a walk, single, and groundout led to another run. In the 5th inning, Locke allowed 2 singles with 1 out before facing Brett Wallace with runners on 1st and 3rd. Wallace homered on the 1st pitch of the at-bat to make it 5-0 Astros. “That one pitch is the only thing that really sticks out to me,” Locke said. “Everything felt really good. Just the one pitch to Wallace got away from me.” Locke finished the inning with a lineout and strikeout. He pitched a total of 5 innings, giving up 5 runs on 7 hits and a walk while striking out 6. “I thought he pitched well,” Clint Hurdle said. “He had one walk, 6 strikeouts, used his fastball very well, changed speeds very well. I thought he kept his poise. He gave us a shot to do something good there today, and he should walk away knowing that.” Jeff Locke is good at looking at the bright side: “I felt like I did a lot of things good and a few things bad, and they took advantage of it. But, you know, everything’s gonna be just fine.” He also said he feels much more confident this year and is ready to help this team fight. Kyle McPherson followed Locke’s outing with 2 scoreless innings, giving up just 2 hits and striking out 2. Hisanori Takahashi pitched a scoreless 8th, giving up just 1 hit and striking out 3. Jared Hughes pitched a perfect 9th inning, striking out all 3 batters he faced.
The lone Pirates’ run came in the 5th inning. Pedro Alvarez led off the inning with a triple, and Clint Barmes drove him in with a single to right. Jeff Clement, pinch-hitting for Locke, followed Barmes’ single with a long fly ball to center. It wasn’t quite far enough though; it was caught at the wall. A Garrett Jones leadoff double went to waste in the 2nd inning. Jones was 3 for 4 on the day. “He’s in a very good place at the plate. He’s aggressive in the strikezone,” Hurdle said. “The ball seems to be bigger, everything’s slowed down. He’s in a really good place; there’s a lot of confidence at the plate right now.” In the 6th inning, the Pirates had runners at 1st and 2nd with 1 out, but that too went to waste. The Pirates managed just 5 hits and a walk off Edgar Gonzalez. “[Gonzalez] wasn’t in too much trouble, so he didn’t have to try and create anything out there,” Hurdle said. “He mixed his pitches. We were not able to connect any at-bats together. A lot of pitches were taken to get down in counts.” The Pirates couldn’t even manage a baserunner against the Astros’ bullpen. I was kidding when I called them stellar earlier, I thought.
“You get one run, and you hang a breaking ball,” Hurdle said. That was the story of the day.
Wandy Rodriguez (9-13, 3.86) starts tomorrow’s 7:05 game at PNC Park. Jordan Lyles (3-10, 5.46 ERA) will start for the Astros.
“We need to put a foot down tomorrow,” Clint Hurdle said.