Collin McHugh bounced back from a woeful 2016 debut with seven scoreless innings and Colby Rasmus walloped his third homer of the season to lead the Astros to an 8-2 win over the Royals on Monday, Opening Day at Minute Maid Park.
McHugh, who lasted only one-third of an inning on Wednesday in his first start of the season, rebounded to shut down the Royals, whom he faced twice in last year's American League Division Series. He allowed eight hits and tied Dallas Keuchel's Opening Day effort for the longest outing by an Astros starter this year
"He was really good tonight," Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer said of McHugh. "He had his cutter working both sides of the plate, and when he can do that, he's tough."
Rasmus launched a long two-run homer to right off Royals right-hander Chris Young in the first inning to give the Astros a 3-0 lead, and Luis Valbuena (double), Jason Castro (triple) and Jose Altuve (single) had consecutive RBI hits in the fourth to make it 6-0. The Astros led 7-0 before the Royals' Kendrys Morales hit a two-run homer off reliever Tony Sipp in the eighth.
"There was a little pep in our step that was needed," said Astros manager A.J. Hinch. "This is fun to come home. We needed to feel the energy that was provided and also give some back on the field, and I think we did that."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED McHugh rebounds: After recording only one out on Wednesday in New York because he had trouble gripping the ball in sub-40-degree weather, McHugh returned to his 2015 form. The Astros right-hander needed 102 pitches to finish seven innings, allowing eight hits and one walk while striking out four.
McHugh, who said he had the best curveball he's had since the beginning of spring, put Wednesday's bad outing behind him as soon as it happen.
"After that night, that was gone and out of my head and it was about getting ready for this start and preparing for this club," he said. "We did a really good job of executing the game plan."
Not this time for Young: The last time Young faced the Astros, he was outstanding -- that was in Game 1 of the 2015 ALDS at Kauffman Stadium. Young, in relief of Yordano Ventura, gave up just three hits and one run while striking out seven through four innings. Monday was a different story, as the Astros hammered him for nine hits and six runs through 4 2/3 innings. Many of the outs he did get were hit hard.
Smashing debut: The Astros unleashed their biggest offensive output of the season in the home opener, reaching season highs in hits (14) and runs scored. Everyone in the starting lineup reached base, with the exception of Carlos Gomez, and Rasmus' homer extended the team record of homers to start a season to seven games.
Extra ball on the field: A ball thrown by a fan onto the field seemed to confuse Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar after George Springer had sliced a run-scoring triple in the eighth inning. With Altuve on first, Springer ripped a liner that Royals right fielder Reymond Fuentes dove for and missed. As Fuentes made his relay throw toward the infield, another ball came flying onto the field.
"I looked at the umpire at second base and said, 'What about that?'" Escobar said. "But the umpire just kind of looked at me and [shrugged his shoulders]. I've never seen that. I thought maybe they should stop the play."
Added Royals manager Ned Yost, "Nothing you can do except find the idiot who threw it and kick him out of the game."
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS Astros shortstop Carlos Correa's 74 RBIs are tied for the most RBIs by a Major League shortstop through 106 games since 1913 (Glenn Wright, 1924; Vern Stephens, 1941-42).
WHAT'S NEXT Royals: The Royals will send right-hander Kris Medlen to the mound for Game 2 of this four-game series at 7:10 p.m. CT on Tuesday. Medlen will be making his first start of the season, having been skipped the first time through the rotation because the team had three off-days in the first week.
Astros: Right-hander Mike Fiers will make his first home start of the season when the Astros and Royals meet on Tuesday at Minute Maid Park. Fiers gave up five runs and nine hits in five innings on Thursday in New York against the Yankees. Last year, he threw the only no-hitter in Minute Maid Park history.