Orioles manager Buck Showalter returned from his son Nathan’s graduation today at TCU and is in his customary position along the dugout railing.
Showalter had a good view of Nick Markakis’ leadoff single in the bottom of the first inning that extended the right fielder’s hitting streak to 17 games, the longest active in the majors.
Markakis lined the fourth pitch from Astros starter Collin McHugh, an 89 mph fastball, into right-center field.
Seven of Markakis’ hits during the streak have come in his first at-bat, including five of the last six games. He’s now batting .319 this season.
Before tonight, Markakis was 23-for-65 (.354) during the streak, with three doubles, two homers, eight RBIs, eight walks and eight runs scored. He’s hit safely in 20 of his last 21 games, including nine multi-hit games. Over that span, he’s 30-for-81 (.370) with five doubles, two homers, nine RBIs, 12 walks and 11 runs scored.
Markakis needs two more hits to tie his career-longest streak set in June 2011.
While Chris Davis plays a rehab game at Double-A Bowie - he lined out in his first at-bat - Steve Pearce is making another start at first base for the Orioles.
He’s been more than just an adequate substitute, batting .303 (10-for-33) with two doubles, three homers, six RBIs and five runs scored in nine games since becoming the starting first baseman.
“You can’t replace Chris Davis. Steve Pearce would say that,” said bench coach John Russell.
“Stevie has done a great job. He’s played great defense. He’s gotten some really big hits for us. That’s the type of player Steve Pearce is. That’s why we really wanted to get him back over the years. We got him back again this year. We lost him, we got him back again. There’s so much value he brings to a club and he’s done a great job, but Chris Davis is Chris Davis. He’s one of the backbones of our team. He’s a middle-of-the-lineup bat for you.
“It’s always nice to have somebody step in and fill the void when somebody’s gone, but again, you can’t replace Chris Davis. You can’t really replace Matt (Wieters), you can’t replace (Adam) Jones, you can’t replace Manny (Machado). Our guys did a nice job while Manny was gone, and that’s what you have to do when you have to overcome injuries. But I’m sure Steve Pearce would say the same thing. We need Chris Davis back in our lineup.”
None of the Orioles have faced Astros starter Collin McHugh. Catcher Jason Castro is 4-for-6 with a home run and four RBIs against Miguel Gonzalez after striking out in the top of the first inning. Third baseman Matt Dominguez is 3-for-5 after grounding out in the second.
Instant update: George Springer hit his second major league home run with two outs in the top of the second inning to give Houston a 1-0 lead.
Gonzalez has thrown 22 pitches in two innings.
Update II: The Astros increased their lead to 2-0 in the third and raised Miguel Gonzalez’s pitch count to 44. He needed only nine to complete the fourth.
The Astros have stolen three bases, though Steve Clevenger’s throw appeared to beat Jonathan Villar at third base in the third inning. However, Villar avoided Manny Machado’s tag.