DETROIT (AP) — Zack Short’s first home run in the majors broke a fifth-inning tie and helped Casey Mize and the Detroit Tigers snap the Houston Astros’ 11-game winning streak with a 3-1 victory to open Saturday’s doubleheader.
“I knew I hit it pretty well, but I saw (right fielder Kyle) Tucker getting ready to jump,” Short said. “When he didn’t get it, I definitely blacked out. That’s an incredible feeling.”
The Astros were trying to tie the franchise record of 12 wins in a row. They got off to a good start, as Jose Altuve began the game with a single and took third on Michael Brantley’s single.
“We’ve been scoring a lot of runs lately, and we had a chance to get off to the races again there,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “We had some pretty good hitters coming up, too.”
Mize, though, struck out Yuli Gurriel and Yordan Alvarez before retiring Carlos Correa on a comebacker.
Tigers manager A.J. Hinch wasn’t surprised that his young ace escaped the inning.
“He’s a really good pitcher -- we know what he’s capable of doing,” Hinch said. “He didn’t worry about the runner at third, he went right after Yuli and Alvarez and still had to get Carlos.”
Mize (5-4) improved to 2-0 in his last four starts, giving up one run on six hits and two walks in six innings. He struck out five to beat the Astros for the second time this season.
“I had some success down there against them, so I’ve been watching that start back,” he said. “I had a lot of success with my splitter against them, so I used that a lot today.”
Jose Cisnero pitched the seventh for his third save.
Short, called up as Detroit’s 27th man for the doubleheader, had his first career extra-base hit on a third-inning double, then homered off Framber Valdez in the fifth.
“We know we can trust Zack in the field and he’s got some pop,” Hinch said. “He isn’t always going to be going back after days like this.”
Valdez (4-1) lost for the first time in six starts this season, allowing three runs on six hits in a six-inning complete game. He struck out six without walking a hitter.
“I felt good out there,” he said. “I thought my only mistake was hanging the one pitch to (Short). I was good other than that.”
Valdez and Mize were both starting for the first time since umpires started checking pitchers on Monday. Valdez’s spin rate was down 8% on his sinker and 7% on his curve, while Mize’s four-seam fastball was down 8% and his sinker was down 10%.
The spin rate on Mize’s splitter was down 23% and the velocity dropped from 86.8 to 83.8 - but that was intentional for a pitcher who has struggled with overthrowing the pitch.
“That’s a feel pitch for Casey with a power-pitch delivery,” Hinch said. “He really did a nice job with it today.”
The Tigers took a 1-0 lead in the second on Isaac Paredes’ sacrifice fly, but Correa tied the game with an RBI single in the third.
In the fifth, Paredes led off with an infield single, took second on Jake Rogers’ sacrifice bunt and scored when Short hit a 1-1 changeup just over the right-field fence.
Astros: Recalled RHP Andre Scrubb to be the 27th man for the doubleheader.
Tigers: Recalled Short to serve as the 27th man. Short came into the game with three singles in five career games, and could stay up to fill Detroit’s shortstop weakness.
Nearly seven inches of rain fell at Comerica Park between Friday and Saturday morning, causing flooding on many local streets and freeways. However, the field was ready to go for the 1:10 start of the opening game.
Michigan was hit by more storms on Saturday afternoon, but they stayed north of downtown.
Lance McCullers Jr. (4-1, 2.90), whose father pitched briefly for the Tigers in 1990, will face Detroit’s Wily Peralta (0-1, 7.11) in the nightcap.