Following their second straight series victory over the weekend, the Pittsburgh Pirates welcomed the defending World Series champion Houston Astros to PNC Park for the first of three games on Monday night.
Starter Roansy Contreras struggled early and often, and the Astros put up some big numbers on their way to a comfortable 8-2 victory.
The Astros scored in each of the first four innings to put the game out of reach early. Contreras lasted just 3.1 innings, giving up seven runs on nine hits and four walks. His mound opponent, Framber Valdez, earned the victory, giving up two runs on three hits and five walks in seven innings on the bump.
Kyle Tucker’s RBI single in the first inning gave the Astros a 1-0 lead, and they added three more in the second inning on an RBI single by Mauricio Dubon and a two-run single by Yordan Alvarez.
After a solo homerun by Ji Man Choi in the bottom of the second cut the lead to 4-1, Houston responded immediately in the third inning with a RBI single by Martin Maldonado to once again make it a four run advantage. Tucker’s two-run single in the fourth made it 7-1 and it was smooth sailing from there.
Rodolfo Castro singled home the Bucs’ second run of the game in the fourth inning, and Alex Bregman completed the scoring for Houston with his RBI single in the seventh inning.
This was obviously not the way the Pirates wanted to open up this series. It was also a very disappointing start for Contreras as well. Coming into this series, we were looking forward to seeing how Contreras and Mitch Keller would perform against a top-notch Astros lineup. Unfortunately, tonight did not go well at all.
In addition to the starting pitching, the offense was ineffective tonight as well. The Bucs managed just three hits collectively, with Ke’Bryan Hayes, Bryan Reynolds, and Andrew McCutchen, the first three hitters in the lineup, going a combined 0-11 at the plate.
The Pirates and Astros will take the field on Tuesday in the second game of the series at PNC Park. Hopefully Keller will fair much better on the bump.
Record vs. Astros: 0-1
Record vs. American League: 5-2
Record at Home: 2-2
Overall Record: 6-4
Let’s Go Bucs!