Astros Use Eight Unanswered to Defeat Tribe; Astros 8, Indians 2

The Astros overcame an early two-run deficit with three runs in the fifth and five more in the sixth off of Indians starter Mike Clevinger and a bad middle relief effort again as Cleveland fell, 8-2, to Houston in game one of a four-game set from Progressive Field.

The Indians were able to do some early damage against tough right-hander Charlie Morton, who brought a perfect 6-0 record to the table on Thursday and a win against the Indians last Friday, but the Tribe pitching was not able to make a pair of third inning runs hold up. Clevinger was good early, but a home run in the fifth gave Houston the lead and things imploded in a messy sixth inning that saw four different Cleveland pitchers take the mound.

The tale of two Clevingers began after he walked George Springer to start the game. He struck out the next three in order, then added a fourth straight K by striking out Marwin Gonzalez to start the second. He gave up his first hit of the game on a one-out single by Yuli Gurriel, but he got out of the inning unscathed. A double play ball would get him off of the hook in the third after a one-out ground rule double by Springer and a walk by Alex Bregman.

Morton started the strikeouts early, as he brought a career-best 11.3 strikeouts per nine inning to the mound in the series opener. He struck out one in the first and two more in the second, working around an infield single by Yonder Alonso.

In the third, the Indians strung together some hits to do some rare damage against Morton this year. Roberto Perez opened the inning with a single. One out later, a double by Francisco Lindor put two in scoring position for Michael Brantley, who delivered with a big two-run single to put the Indians on the board. Brantley would move to second out a groundout by Jose Ramirez and to third on a passed ball, but after a walk by Edwin Encarnacion, Alonso lined out to short.

Bregman – Ron Schwane/Getty Images

Both clubs got big double plays to get out of the fourth, but things began to change quickly in the fifth after two outs were recorded. Brian McCann grounded out to start the inning, but Jake Marisnick singled to left. He was picked off of first for the second out, but Clevinger plunked Tony Kemp. He stole second and Springer drew a walk before Bregman drove a 2-2 pitch over the wall in left for a three-run home run, putting the Astros on top, 3-2.

With a new lead, Morton retired the side in order in the bottom of the fifth and the Astros bats delivered the knockout punch in the sixth. Singles by Carlos Correa and Gurriel around a groundout put two on and sent Clevinger to the clubhouse. Tyler Olson came on in relief and faced pinch-hitter Max Stassi, who drove home Correa with a single to left. Neil Ramirez was summoned by manager Terry Francona to face Marisnick, but he would erase all doubt with a three-run blast to center to make it a 7-2 ball game. Ramirez would stay on to retire Kemp, but Springer singled, stole second, and scored on a double by Bregman, bringing Francona back to the mound for Oliver Drake. He stopped the bleeding, getting Jose Altuve to fly to center, but the damage was done in the five-run inning as Houston’s lead extended to 8-2.

With the game out of hand, the Indians bullpen would be much better the rest of the way, as Drake worked a perfect seventh, Zach McAllister allowed a single but struck out three in the eighth, and Josh Tomlin got three groundouts in the ninth. Morton would walk a batter in his final inning of work in the sixth before turning the game over to the bullpen, which gave up just two hits in the final three innings to secure the win.

The Indians (24-24) fell back to the .500 mark with the loss, seeing their modest two-game winning streak come to an end as the club dropped to 9-12 in the month of May. Their lead in the AL Central shrank to a game and a half over idle Minnesota. The Astros (33-18) extended their winning streak to four straight games and the club has now won eight of ten, including three over the Indians in that stretch. They are now 17-7 away from home and improved their MLB-leading run differential to +116 for the year.


Fresh off of a victory over the Indians in his previous start, Morton was right back at it, overcoming the early two-run deficit to earn his seventh straight winning decision to kick off the season. The winning ways extend all the way back to mid-September of last season, when he won his last three decisions of the year.

His final line was good for six innings of work, with two runs allowed on five hits with three walks and five strikeouts.

Clevinger – Ron Schwane/Getty Images


Clevinger suffered his first loss as a starter since last July 31 when he met the Astros last Friday. They would get him again on Thursday night, sending him to a second straight losing decision for the first time since losing back-to-back starts on May 31 and June 6 of last season.

Unlike his start against the Astros last Friday, he did not make a quality start. He pitched into the sixth inning, retiring one batter before being run from the game. After the bullpen allowed his inherited runners to score, he was charged with five runs allowed in total on seven hits with three walks and four strikeouts.

“These guys are really good,” Francona said after the game. “Even last year, before they won the World Series, the way they played the game really stood out. They’re fun to play, not because you think you’re going to push them around, but because they play so well.”


While there was little to like about the Indians’ performance on Thursday, Brantley’s strong season and hot May continued as his two-run single extended his hitting streak to 13 straight games. In extremely uncharacteristic fashion, however, Brantley took the hat trick by striking out in his other three at bats, doing so for the first time since September 14, 2013.


The Indians will look to get back into the win column on Friday night in a 7:10 PM ET first pitch. It will be a rematch of last Saturday’s game in Houston, as left-hander Dallas Keuchel (3-6, 3.43 ERA) and right-hander Corey Kluber (7-2, 2.36) will take the mound.

Kluber got the win in their last meeting, giving up two runs over seven innings to tie for the American League lead in wins for the year. He kept the Astros at bay, giving up six hits and no walks while striking out ten, his third double-digit strikeout performance of the season. He will look to extend his streak of quality starts to open the year to eleven, as he has pitched no fewer than six innings and allowed no more than three runs in any one of his starts.

Keuchel was dealt his first career loss against the Indians in that game, giving up four runs on six hits with a pair of walks and three strikeouts in just five innings, defeated by Cleveland for the first time in five decisions.

Photo: Ron Schwane/Getty Images

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