Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Correa's blast, 4 RBIs key Astros past Halos

Carlos Correa launched a three-run, first-inning homer and finished a triple shy of the cycle, Jose Altuve extended his on-base streak to 31 games and the Astros beat the Angels, 7-1, on Tuesday to claim a series victory and their ninth win in their last 10 games.
"We expect to win the way we're playing, which is good," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "We show up the ballpark every day feeling good about the chance to win. We've got to go out and produce and do some things and prepare, but we do have a nice little vibe about us, a little swagger. We've got our confidence back and the way we show up and performing right now, it's a fun atmosphere."
Altuve walked against Angels right-hander Tim Lincecum in the first inning to extend his Major League-best streak and was followed by Correa's Statcast-projected 389-foot home run to left field to give the Astros an early 3-0 lead.
"I knew he was going to throw some changeups to get me to chase and I was able to lay off them and get a good pitch to hit," Correa said.
Lincecum struggled at home for the second consecutive start, giving up five runs in 4 1/3 innings and struggling with control as the Angels lost for the eighth time in their last nine games.
"I thought [Tim] spun the ball better," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of Lincecum. "His fastball command improved as the game went on. But in that first inning, just two walks and going 2-0 to Correa, they got on that board quick."
Astros right-hander Scott Feldman, making his first start since April 24, worked an efficient five innings to pick up the win. He gave up a run (zero earned) on three hits, striking out two and walking none in a tidy 65 pitches.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Correa strikes again: Correa, who drove in the go-ahead run in the ninth inning Monday with a sac fly, struck early with his three-run homer, his 13th, to give the Astros an early cushion. He drove in Altuve on a grounder in the seventh inning to give him four RBIs in a 3-for-4 night. He has 14 RBIs in the last eight games, giving him a team-high-tying 47 this season. More >
"He's got a little burst of energy the last 10, 12 days and he's hunting pitches and his productivity has skyrocketed," Hinch said. "He's done a lot of damage with the pitches to hit. He's got a little bounce in his step, obviously, and that comes with confidence and contributing and things like that. He's playing great."
Wild Thing: Lincecum was erratic from the start on Tuesday, walking two of the first three batters on four pitches each before giving up the homer to Correa. He only threw 55 strikes in his 101 total pitches, and was pulled in the fifth inning with a pair on as the bullpen, which had thrown 29 innings in the last eight games, was tasked with another long night. More >
"My fastball command was pretty terrible," Lincecum said. "If you don't get a chance to establish the zone and work around that, I found myself being one-dimensional again with my changeup and not really finding my way out of it."
Feldman fills in nicely: Making a spot start in place of Lance McCullers (blister), Feldman held the Angels without an earned run for five innings to pick up his first win this season as a starter. Feldman, making his first start in two months, allowed only three singles, including an infield hit. He threw 65 pitches, which was his most since throwing 103 in his last start, which came against the Red Sox. More >
"I have been doing the bullpen thing for a couple of months so I had to try to remember my whole routine for [starting], but it was a lot of fun," Feldman said. "I appreciate the opportunity and just tried to make the most of it."
Nothing doing: The Angels' offense struggled to get much of anything going all night long, as they didn't get their first extra-base hit until shortstop Andrelton Simmons' double over left fielder Colby Rasmus' head in the seventh inning. Left fielder Daniel Nava doubled to right to give the Angels their only other extra-base hit. They totaled eight runners in scoring position, with one -- catcher Carlos Perez in the third inning -- coming around to score.
"We had a couple good looks at [Feldman] and a couple good opportunities, and we couldn't get those hits with runners in scoring position," Scioscia said. "Especially early, it could've maybe set the game up a little different."
QUOTABLE
"He's every bit our heart and soul of our team." -- Hinch on Altuve, who went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and two steals to extend his hitting streak to 10 games
"I was a lot better today mechanically. I was able to get my arm up and pull down, but even so, I just felt myself not attacking the zone and after that just going to my secondary pitches and trying to be B.S. my way through it." -- Lincecum, on his mechanics and command
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
Angels center fielder Mike Trout hit a one-out flare single in the first inning off Feldman, then decided to bolt for second base two pitches later. He was initially ruled safe, but the Astros challenged the call. After a one minute, 59-second review, the call stood and Trout was awarded his 11th stolen base of the year.
Perez tried to bunt for a single to lead off the third inning. The Angels challenged, the play was reviewed and subsequently overturned. After initially being called out, Perez was awarded a single.
WHAT'S NEXT
Astros: Left-hander Dallas Keuchel (4-9, 5.35 ERA) takes the mound in Wednesday's 2:35 p.m. CT series finale against the Angels at Angel Stadium. Keuchel beat the Royals last time out in Kansas City, which was only his second win in a span of seven starts during which he's 2-4 with a 5.24 ERA.
Angels: Jered Weaver comes into Wednesday's series finale against the Astros looking to recapture some magic from two starts ago, when he tossed a 95-pitch shutout against Oakland. He's 6-6 with a 5.24 ERA this season, often running into his most trouble his second and third time through the batting order. First pitch is scheduled for 12:35 p.m. PT.

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