McCullers, Altuve lead Astros over Athletics 11-0
HOUSTON (AP) Lance McCullers got a lot of longball help, not that he needed much.
Altuve hit a towering home run that left the ballpark and doubled. It was Altuve’s 26th career four-hit game, tying Jeff Bagwell for second most in franchise history, eight behind Craig Biggio.
”It means that it’s the 26th time that I helped my team to do something,” Altuve said. ”When you get four hits that means you’re going to be on base a lot of times for guys like (Carlos) Correa, Marwin (Gonzalez), (Josh) Reddick.”
George Springer, Derek Fisher and Marwin Gonzalez also homered in the highest-scoring this season for the World Series champions. The Astros scored in every inning but the fifth, chasing Oakland starter Daniel Mengden (2-3) in the third.
”We just controlled the zone, and when he made a mistake a lot of guys didn’t miss it,” Springer said. ”He’s obviously been throwing the ball well; he’s good when he’s on. For us to take him out and get to him early was huge.”
McCullers (4-1) allowed two hits, striking out seven without a walk for his third straight win.
”I got my strikeouts when I needed them, I got my strikeouts when they presented themselves, but I was getting a lot of outs 1-1 or 2-1 or 2-0 on some changeups,” McCullers said.
”Because the offense did such a great job I was able to throw some 2-0 challenge heaters. They were hit to the warning track sometimes but they stayed in the park, which was the important thing,” he said.
The right-hander was perfect before Mark Canha singled to lead off the sixth inning. McCullers has not given up more than one run in each of his last three starts.
”He had excellent stuff tonight,” Houston manager A.J. Hinch said. ”His ball was moving all over the place, he threw a few changeups, more than probably the entire season. He’s always got the power breaking ball. He did everything right as a pitcher tonight, whether getting out of the gate hot, coming in throwing strikes, seeing that his stuff was (good). It was an excellent performance by him.”
Altuve singled and scored in the first, hit an RBI double in the second and had a solo home run in the sixth.
Fisher hit a two-run homer in the fourth and Springer had a leadoff drive in the sixth. Gonzalez, who had a sacrifice fly in the third, hit a solo home run into the second deck in right in the seventh.
”For hitters hitting 2-0, 2-1, 3-1 counts is what they dream of, and that’s what I gave them all night,” Mengden said. ”Just didn’t execute very well tonight and didn’t get strike one.”
Mengden was tagged for five runs and six hits in a season-low 2 1/3 innings.
”The ball was up in the zone early on,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. ”He had trouble getting ahead. They put some good swings on him.”
Athletics: RHP Paul Blackburn, currently on the 60-day disabled list with a strained right forearm, is throwing out to 90 feet but not off the mound, Melvin said. … OF Boog Powell (sprained right knee) is doing strengthening and conditioning but no baseball activity, Melvin said.
HALLION HAS A SCARE
Plate umpire Tom Hallion took a foul ball off his chest during Marcus Semien’s first inning at-bat. Hallion, who is also the crew chief, immediately fell onto his back. Houston catcher Brian McCann leaned over Hallion, holding his hand while the other umpires and an Astros trainer ran out. After a few minutes, Hallion was helped to a sitting position before standing up and resuming play, staying in for the rest of the game.
Athletics: RHP Trevor Cahill (1-0) will make his third start of the season Sunday after earning a no decision Monday at Texas, allowing three runs in five innings.
Astros: RHP Gerrit Cole (2-1) will look to bounce back after being handed his first loss of the season Monday against the Angels, allowing two runs in seven innings.