The Tigers held the Astros off the board until the sixth, when they broke through against Michael Fulmer to take game two and split the doubleheader with a 3-2 victory.
Spot starter Wily Peralta went through the Astros 1-2-3 in the first with the help of a screaming liner right at Nomar Mazara in right field off the bat of Michael Brantley. In the bottom of the frame, Jonathan Schoop singled with out out, followed by Robbie Grossman drawing a walk to put runners at first and second. Miguel Cabrera got carved up on three Lance McCullers’ offerings, but Nomar Mazara drilled a single up the middle to score Schoop and give the Tigers a 1-0 lead.
Peralta’s command was pretty poor in this one, leaving a ton of pitches up, and he started the second by issuing a walk to Yordan Alvarez. Fortunately, with Carlos Correa batting, a pitch squirted away from catcher Eric Haase and Alvarez broke for second. Haase pounced quickly and made a perfect throw to second as Alvarez initially slid in just a hair ahead of the bag, but came off briefly as Willi Castro held the tag on. Correa grounded out and Kyle Tucker popped one up near third base with the shift on that only Peralta had a good play on, squeezing it for the final out of the second inning.
At this point, McCullers had settled in. He collected 11 straight outs, including the first of the fifth inning, when Harold Castro dumped a single into center field. Zack Short struck out, but Akil Baddoo drew a four pitch walk and Jonathan Schoop pulled a grounder through the left side to score Castro and put the Tigers up 2-0.
In the meantime, Peralta gave way to Kyle Funkhouser in the third inning after going through the Astros order once. Funkhouser struggled with his command initially, but got a little help from his defense in the fourth. He then settled in and was dynamite in the fifth, spotting his fastball at 97-98 mph and locating his slider beautifully. He punched out three Astros in that frame, pitching around a two-out Myles Straw single.
Things were looking pretty good.
Michael Fulmer came on in the sixth, and from the beginning didn’t look his best, sitting just 93-94 mph with his fastball. He tried to spot a 3-2 slider down to Jose Altuve to lead off the inning, but Altuve pulled it down the left field line for a double. Fulmer got Michael Brantley lining out to first, and Jonathan Schoop’s quick transfer and release would have doubled off Altuve at second had Short not dropped the ball. Yuri Gurriel then lined out to left, and Fulmer needed just one more out to escape the inning. He got into a tough battle with Yordan Alvarez that led to a 3-2 count. Fulmer tried a swingback sinker at his hands, but it ran back across the plate where the lefty could extend his arms and he sent it into the visitor’s bullpen to tie the game at two apiece. Two pitches later, Carlos Correa untied it with a no doubter to left.
That was pretty much all she wrote. Joe Jiménez looked good in the top of the seventh and had no issues getting the Astros 1-2-3, but Ryan Pressly came on and shut the door with a pretty dominant frame to earn the save and salvage a split of the doubleheader for Houston.