A REAL HOMER

George Springer and Astros stars roll out lively bowling bash for local kids

Photo by Kim Padgett

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

The 5th George Springer All-Star Bowling Benefit raised more than $250,000 on the evening of June 27, with the proceeds going toward sending economically disadvantaged kids who stutter to the SAY summer camp (SAY stands for the Stuttering Association for the Young). As most Astros fans know, our American League starting All-Star slugger grew up stuttering and now is the SAY national spokesman.

The annual event at Bowlmor on Bunker Hill Road drew an array of local celebrities like Channel 11 anchor Ron Trevino, Channel 2 sports anchor Lainie Fritz, and Houston Dynamo legend Brian Ching. After some poignant speeches by remarkable kids (including one with a show-stopping singing voice), Houstonians bowled for a good cause. (I was an honorary lane captain.) Complimentary refreshments included pizza, pigs in a blanket, and fried mozzarella sticks.

Many of the Astros came to lend their support to Springer's effort — think José Altuve, Carlos Correa, and Lance McCullers Jr. — and throw a few bowling balls into the gutter. (Stick to your day and night jobs, guys.)

I pulled pitcher Collin McHugh aside (in between sets) for a few fast, hard-hitting questions:

CultureMap: When I watch the games on TV and they show the dugout, there’s always five landline phones on the dugout wall. I figure one is to call the bullpen, and one is to call the Psychic Hotline. Where do you think the other three phones go?

Collin McHugh: One is to call Aramark to have some food sent down to the dugout. One is to call into the clubhouse to see who's taking a nap. And the other is to call Uber to get me home.

CM: Who controls the music in the Astros clubhouse?

CMcH: Definitely George Springer! He's the team deejay. He has eclectic taste. My personal favorite is Sunday Funday. We get a lot of Earth, Wind & Fire, which is great by me.

CM: How do you kill time in the clubhouse during a rain delay?

CMcH: I like to watch guys play cards. I know it sounds weird, but we've got some really competitive guys, so things get pretty intense. They don't play poker, it's usually something like spades or hearts, old school games. Will Harris and Wade Miley are the most intense, tough duo.

Continue reading on CultureMap to find out if Collin McHugh likes the rule that baseball managers have to wear a uniform.


Astros get back on track with lopsided win

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 2 hits from the 11-2 win

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

With two of their worst pitching performances behind them from Monday and Tuesday nights, the Astros had Gerrit Cole on the mound on Wednesday to try and right the ship. Here is a recap of the third of four games in this series:

Final Score: Astros 11, Angels 2.

Record: 60-37, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Gerrit Cole (10-5, 3.12 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Felix Pena (7-3, 4.92 ERA).

1) Overpowering offense makes it easy for Houston's pitchers

Houston's openers and primary pitchers put up disappointing numbers the offense could not overcome the previous two nights. Houston's bats flipped the script on that, taking control of the game on Tuesday night to make it less stressful for Gerrit Cole and the bullpen.

They started with a three-run first inning, getting a one-out single by Jose Altuve who would score on an RBI-double by Alex Bregman before a two-run homer by Michael Brantley in the next at-bat. They continued scoring in the next two innings, getting a run in each. Jose Altuve notched an RBI-double in the second, then Yuli Gurriel led the third inning off with a double before scoring on a wild pitch later in the inning.

They nearly doubled that 6-0 lead in the top of the fifth, getting four straight two-out hits. It started with a single by Robinson Chirinos to move Michael Brantley, who was hit by a pitch earlier in the inning, over to second. Tyler White was next with another RBI in this series, getting a single to score Brantley. Jake Marisnick was next, and he came through with an RBI-double before George Springer would clear the bases with a three-run dinger to make it an 11-0 game.

2) Cole gives fans a breath of fresh air

As mentioned, Astros fans were desperate for an efficient pitching performance after the woes of the last two nights. Gerrit Cole delivered, rebounding from his previous start, which was a drop-off from his usual numbers and having a more typical night.

Cole allowed only a handful of hits and a walk over the first four innings, keeping the Angels off the board until the fifth. They would tag him with his near-daily home run in that inning, a solo shot to make it an 11-1 game, the only run he would allow on the night.

Even with his pitch count in the 90s after six innings, the Astros trusted him to come back out and eat another inning. He did so, getting a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh on three strikeouts, bringing his total on the night to eleven. Cole's final line: 7 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 11 K, 1 HR.

Cole's excellent performance meant only two innings of relief needed from Houston' bullpen. Joe Smith provided a scoreless eighth, then Ryan Pressly wrapped things up despite allowing a run in the bottom of the ninth to make it 11-2.

Up Next: The Astros and Angels will conclude this series tomorrow with the finale of the four-game set starting an hour earlier at 8:07 PM. The expected pitching matchup is Wade Miley (7-4, 3.32 ERA) for Houston going up against Matt Harvey (3-4, 6.88 ERA) for Los Angeles.

The Astros daily report is presented by APG&E.

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