Although Collin McHugh claims the longest undefeated streak in the majors, there’s a bit of a blurred line when he faces the NL.
The Houston right-hander also happens to be tied for the longest active winless streak against the Senior Circuit, and both streaks will be in play Tuesday night as the Astros welcome the San Francisco Giants for a two-game set.
McHugh (4-0, 3.23 ERA) is 11-0 with a 2.31 ERA in 16 starts since the beginning of August, and another win would tie him with Wade Miller (2002) and Mark Portugal (1993) for the franchise record of 12 straight decisions won.
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The run includes two starts against the NL in which he didn’t have a decision, and his last loss came against Miami on July 27.
Those games are part of a career 0-9 record in 13 starts against the NL, which is tied with Mike Pelfrey for the longest winless stretch in the majors. Including six relief efforts, McHugh is 0-10 with a 7.09 ERA versus the NL, and no other active pitcher who is winless against one league has more than seven losses against it.
That didn’t come into play in Thursday’s 3-2 win against the Los Angeles Angels with McHugh’s streak surviving after the Astros (20-12) scored three in the top of the ninth to bail him out. He allowed two runs and five hits in 7 1-3 innings and surrendered his fifth home run in two starts after not giving one up through hits first four.
"I was thinking the whole time, ‘Don’t ever tell me solo homers don’t beat you,’ because it looked like it for a while," McHugh told MLB’s official website.
He might not be able to bank on that kind of help again. The Astros split four with the Angels with 10 runs scored and have 15 with a .153 average over a 2-5 span. That began with a three-game sweep by Texas, which dropped Houston to 8-8 at home with a .201 average and 3.19 runs per game compared to a 12-4 road mark with .251 and 5.56 marks.
"We have to play better at home," said manager A.J. Hinch, whose club plays its next nine at Minute Maid Park. "We haven’t played a ton at home in a row. It will be nice to have a long homestand. We have three teams coming in, but there’s no doubt we can have a competitive advantage at home, and should."
The Giants (16-16) had that advantage the last time around in a three-game sweep in Houston in 2012 as part of a six-game winning streak in the series to close out the Astros’ time in the NL.
Chris Heston will be responsible with keeping that going in interleague play.
Heston (2-3, 3.38) was impressive in his first three starts but has fallen off since, going 0-2 with a 6.48 ERA in his last three after allowing five runs and 11 hits in five innings of Wednesday’s 9-1 loss to San Diego.
"I have to pitch inside," Heston said. "I’m doing them a favor by leaving it out there. I need to command the inside part of the plate better."
San Francisco won 3-2 over Miami on Sunday on a walk-off single from Matt Duffy to cap a two-run ninth. It’s also coming off a four-game split to conclude a 7-3 homestand to begin May in which the rotation posted a 2.58 ERA.
Brandon Belt was 2 for 4 in the finale against the Marlins and is 14 for 29 in eight games. He’s also 9 for 22 at Minute Maid Park.