Astros sweep doubleheader from Mets
provide brief distraction for tragedy-torn city

Springer celebrates 30th HR
(c) Associated Press

The Astros made a triumphant return to Minute Maid Park on Saturday. Playing at home for the first time since Hurricane Harvey ravaged the area, the Astros completed an impressive sweep of a day/night doubleheader against the Mets.

The Astros had a rude welcome for the ironically named Matt Harvey in Game 1, scoring seven runs in the first two innings, bringing an early exit for the right-hander in his ill-timed first game back from the disabled list.

The Astros put four runs on the board in the first inning including a 2-run double by Marwin Gonzalez and an RBI single by the newest addition to the lineup, Cameron Maybin. Houston added three more in the second when George Springer cranked a 2-run homer into the Crawford Boxes and Jose Altuve singled and scored on a wild pitch.

Charlie Morton turned in a solid start for the home team, striking out nine batters and leaving with a 10-2 lead after five innings. Things got a little shaky for the Astros bullpen in the seventh when an error by Alex Bregman and a wild pitch and a walk by Francis Martes loaded the bases with only one out.

Will Harris replaced Martes and gave up a single and a grand slam home run before getting two outs to finish off the inning. The Astros answered with two runs of their own in the bottom of the inning and coasted the rest of the way for a 12-8 win.

Brad Peacock got the starting assignment in the nightcap and locked horns with Seth Lugo in a good old-fashioned pitchers duel. The game stayed scoreless into the sixth when Juan Lagares led off the inning with a triple to centerfield off Peacock. After a walk and a strikeout put runners at the corners with one out, A.J. Hinch brought in Francisco Liriano to face left-handed hitting Dominic Smith.

Smith smacked a double off the end of the glove of a leaping Springer in center to give the Mets a 1-0 lead. Kevin Plawecki followed with a line drive that was snared by third-baseman J.D. Davis for out number two. Liriano then walked Brandon Nimmo and was replaced on the mound by Joe Musgrove.

Musgrove got Gavin Cecchini on a foul pop to catcher Brian McCann and became the pitcher of record when the Astros scored four runs in their half of the frame. Josh Reddick knocked in the tying run after Bregman singled and Altuve walked to set the table. Marwin Gonzalez put the Astros ahead with a single to right that chased Lugo from the game.

A McCann groundout and a sacrifice fly by Davis completed the scoring and Musgrove responded with two scoreless innings before handing a 4-1 lead to Ken Giles in the ninth.

Giles needed only fifteen pitches in a 1-2-3 ninth, nailing down his 28th save and Houston's 82nd win of the season. The two wins, coupled with a loss by the second-place Angels, cut the Astros' magic number to clinch the division to 15. Mike Fiers will try to further reduce that number Sunday afternoon when he takes the mound in the 1:10 CDT interleague series finale.

- Greg Thurston