Charlie Morton reprised his dominant pitching from last postseason, and the Houston Astros rode a balanced offensive attack to a 6-1 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Monday in the home opener at Minute Maid Park.
Morton (1-0) continued what has been a sterling start for Astros starters, twirling six scoreless innings while allowing three hits and two walks with six strikeouts. He matched the six shutout frames right-hander Justin Verlander posted on Opening Day at Texas.
The Astros completed one turn through their rotation allowing six earned runs over 30 1/3 innings (1.78 ERA) with 36 strikeouts.
His effort dovetailed with the Astros (4-1) unveiling their 2017 World Series banner during a pregame ceremony. Morton was the pitcher of record in both Game 7s Houston won last postseason, shining as the starter against the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series before relieving against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series.
The Astros wasted little time pouncing on Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman (0-1), with George Springer and Alex Bregman stroking consecutive doubles to open the bottom of the first inning. Bregman plated Springer with his hit to left field and later advanced to third on a wild pitch before being erased at that base trying to scamper back to the bag on a grounder to shortstop.
Bregman made up for that baserunning miscue with a pair of walks and some terrific defensive work at third base. The Astros provided Morton additional run support in the fourth inning, tacking on three runs with a Marwin Gonzalez home run to right field, a Derek Fisher triple to center, and a Springer single that plated Fisher and stretched the lead to 4-0 against Tillman.
Tillman allowed four runs on seven hits and four walks over four-plus innings. He did not record a strikeout.
Springer, Fisher and catcher Brian McCann recorded two hits apiece for the Astros, who lost All-Star shortstop Carlos Correa to left big toe discomfort in the third inning.
Orioles left fielder Trey Mancini opened the ninth inning with a home run to straightaway center field off Astros right-hander Collin McHugh.
Baltimore (1-3) managed just five runs in dropping its three-game home series to the Twins last weekend.
—Field Level Media