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Astros’ Lance McCullers Jr. shines in season debut vs. A’s

Aug 13, 2022; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. (43) delivers against the Oakland Athletics during the first inning at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

Lance McCullers Jr. tossed six shutout innings in his season debut as the Houston Astros rolled to an 8-0 win over the visiting Oakland Athletics on Saturday.

Alex Bregman hit a two-run homer and Chas McCormick and Kyle Tucker added two-run triples for the Astros, who have won the first two games of the three-game series. Oakland took its seventh loss in a row while Houston won its third straigh.

McCullers (1-0) missed the first 114 games of the season with a right flexor tendon strain sustained last postseason. He made four rehab starts across two minor league levels for Houston prior to his reinstatement from the injured list.

The right-hander needed 81 pitches to record 18 outs against the Athletics. He allowed at least one baserunner in each of his six innings, but Elvis Andrus was alone in reaching scoring position following his one-out double in the first.

McCullers induced inning-ending, double-play grounders in the second and sixth innings, and Houston got a strikeout-throwout double play to end the third. Nick Allen had the other hit off McCullers, a two-out single in the fifth.

McCullers walked four batters and struck out five. He threw 22 sinkers, 20 curveballs, 17 changeups, 12 sliders and 10 cutters while recording seven swings and misses.

Phil Maton (one inning) and Bryan Abreu (two innings) completed the Astros’ five-hit shutout.

Houston was quick to provide McCullers run support, parlaying a pair of two-out rallies into a 4-0 lead through four innings.

Bregman followed a two-out single from Yordan Alvarez with a two-run home run in the first off Athletics left-hander Zach Logue (3-6), his 15th homer covering 408 feet to left-center field.

After Logue retired Bregman and Tucker to open the fourth, McCormick followed singles from Trey Mancini and Jeremy Pena with a two-run triple.

Mancini, who recorded hits in each of his first three at-bats, chased Logue with an RBI double that scored Tucker with one out in the sixth. Pena then greeted Oakland reliever Domingo Tapia with a double on the first pitch, driving in Mancini for a 6-0 lead.

With two outs in the seventh, Tucker added a two-run triple that plated Yuli Gurriel and Alvarez. Gurriel, Alvarez and Pena produced two-hit games for Houston.

Logue yielded six runs on eight hits and two walks in 5 1/3 innings. He struck out two.

–Field Level Media