HOUSTON — In addition to lauding the performance of his rookie right-hander David Paulino on Saturday night, Astros manager A.J. Hinch made clear his satisfaction with how Paulino emotionally approached his fifth career start.
Paulino, a recent fixture in an injury-ravaged rotation, produced the best start of his burgeoning career and was backed by an aggressive offense in the Houston Astros‘ 7-1 victory over the Boston Red Sox at Minute Maid Park.
Paulino (1-0) posted his first career win by working a career-long six innings, allowing three hits and one run with four strikeouts. The lone blemish came in the fifth inning when Boston designated hitter and Houston native Chris Young hit a leadoff home run to left field, his 11th career homer at Minute Maid Park.
“I feel really blessed,” said Paulino, who made one start last season and joined the rotation this season on May 31. “I have to thank my teammates because they helped me out to get this win and I’m really happy about it.”
Paulino responded to the Young dinger by retiring the following three batters in order before working around a leadoff single by Mookie Betts in the sixth with an inning-ending double play off the bat of Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts.
While Paulino retired the side in order just twice, in the second and third, he allowed only one baserunner to reach scoring position, and that came via Young and his home run trot. Not only was he efficient, he was calm and collected.
“That was a great performance,” Hinch said. “And I loved his demeanor; he was calm the whole day. He was focused, he was getting them to mishit some balls. He stayed very calm in his approach. All in all, I think his ability to throw both breaking balls for strikes, mix in a fastball here and there (was critical), but just (his ability to) control his emotions and excitement and his demeanor on the mound was the most impressive it’s been since he’s been up here.”
Said Red Sox manager John Farrell of Paulino: “The scouting report was that you’re never really in a fastball count because of the ability to command the secondary pitches, and that was the case here tonight.”
George Springer, Jose Altuve and Carlos Beltran had multi-hit games for the Astros (46-23), with Springer and Altuve each finishing 2-for-4. Altuve scored twice and added two RBIs, and Beltran homered, doubled and had three RBIs.
Boston (38-30) was undone by another poor start from right-hander Rick Porcello (3-9).
The Astros were quick to make Porcello uncomfortable with the first four batters reaching base in the first inning.
Springer and Altuve reached via doubles, with Springer scoring on the Altuve extra-base hit to give Houston the lead. After a Carlos Correa walk loaded the bases, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran delivered quality, veteran at-bats, each driving a Porcello offering to deep center field for run-scoring sacrifice flies.
Houston took a less manufactured approach to scoring three more runs in the third, with Altuve and Beltran homering to stretch the lead to 6-0. Altuve cranked his 10th home run 428 feet to left-center field while Beltran hit his ninth to right.
Porcello stabilized and worked six innings, but the early damage was severe. He allowed seven runs and 10 hits, six for extra bases, and one walk. It marked the fifth time this season that Porcello has surrendered double-digit hits in a start.
“It’s inconsistent,” Porcello said of his execution. “That’s the bottom line, inconsistent.”
NOTES: Astros RHP Lance McCullers will accompany the club on its upcoming seven-game trip through Oakland and Seattle with the possibility that he could start the series finale against the Athletics on Thursday. McCullers, on the 10-day disabled list since June 9 with lower back discomfort, must throw a bullpen without issue before a decision is rendered regarding reinstatement. … Red Sox 3B Pablo Sandoval sat for a second consecutive game, with manager John Ferrell acknowledging that Sandoval is enduring an adjustment period to the knee brace he has worn since being reinstated from the disabled list on May 30. Sandoval missed 31 games with a right knee sprain. … Astros RHP Charlie Morton is nearing a return from the 10-day disabled list and will travel with the club to Oakland to be in relative proximity to Triple-A Fresno, where he would make his first rehab start. He has been sidelined since May 25 with a right lat strain.