Lyles Dominates, Maxwell Delivers
After going more than a week without celebrating a win, the Houston Astros had to be exasperated. On Sunday afternoon, some unsuspecting Astros took out their frustration on the Cincinnati Reds as the Astros finally got back into the win column and off of the losing streak. The Astros held off the Cincinnati Reds 5-3 in front of the home crowd in Houston on Sunday to stop an 8-game losing streak and improve their record to 23-31.
Usually, when the top four batters in your order go 1-15, as the Astros’ lineup did, wins are hard to come by. Unless, of course, the bottom of the order catches fire and comes through in clutch situations, much like Brett Wallace, Jason Castro, and pinch-hit master Justin Maxwell did on Sunday. The Astros 5-9 spots in the order combined to go 9-14 with four RBI’s.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the fabulous performance by Astros’ starting pitcher Jordan Lyles, who officially earned his right to stay in the big leagues with his effort against the Reds. The youngest pitcher in the Major Leagues picked up his first win of the season whilst making manager Brad Mills gush over his performance after the game.
Lyles pitched seven innings, giving up just two runs and five hits while striking out two. It was a welcomed sight for Astros’ players and coaches after the team had allowed 67 runs during its 8-game losing streak, by far the roughest stretch for the pitching staff of the season.
Lyles picked the Reds’ lineup apart through seven innings of work, with his lone hiccup coming in the third inning after allowing a two-out single to pitcher Bronson Arroyo, followed by a two-run home run by Reds’ shortstop Zach Cosart.
Said Brad Mills of Lyles’ outing, “Said Mills, “What an effort from Jordan Lyles. That was absolutely outstanding.”
While Lyles was outstanding, the biggest play of the game came from a man who wasn’t even in the starting lineup. With one out in the bottom of the seventh inning and nursing a one run lead, Astros’ manager Brad Mills called on outfielder Justin Maxwell to pinch hit with a runner on base.
Maxwell launched another monster home run in left field, his third pinch hit home run of the season and his fourth overall. Maxwell now leads all Major League players in pinch-hit home runs. As a team, the Astros also lead the MLB in pinch hits with 24 and rank 3rd in pinch-hit average at .296.
The Astros take an off day today to recuperate before finishing up their home stand with a three game set against the St. Louis Cardinals beginning Tuesday. Lucas Harrell will take the mound Tuesday against Jaime Garcia. The Astros’ lineup tagged Garcia for six earned runs earlier this season in an 8-2 victory against the Cards, and they’ll be looking to do more of the same Tuesday night.
For today, though, the Astros can breathe a sigh of relief with the knowledge that the losing streak is over. However frustrating the past week may have been, the only streak the Astros are on now is a one game winning streak. It may not be much, but hey, we all have to start somewhere, don’t we?