Wednesday, July 17th, 2019 pm31 6:28pm

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Houston Astros defeat Kansas City Royals in home opener

HOUSTON — Astros right-hander Collin McHugh has a competitive streak often belied by his cerebral approach to pitching, but there are some nights where the fire within burns so hot that it’s irrepressible.

McHugh rebounded from a nightmarish season debut with seven scoreless innings as the Houston Astros won their home opener 8-2 over the Kansas City Royals on Monday night at Minute Maid Park.


Jose Altuve recorded his first multi-hit game of the season and combined with Colby Rasmus to help supply the offensive punch the Astros (3-4) needed to roll Royals right-hander Chris Young (0-2).

Rasmus homered while Altuve finished 3-for-4 with three runs and an RBI. Every Houston starter excluding Carlos Gomez reached base, and six recorded RBIs including two apiece from Rasmus and Carlos Correa.

“When you look down our lineup, when we’re really doing things right, there’s a lot of quality at-bats,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “We piece them together. I thought we worked in tandems very well. We ran the bases aggressively, we played with a chip on our shoulder as well based on coming home and feeding off the energy of our home crowd.”

McHugh (1-1) scattered eight hits and issued just one walk against four strikeouts. The Royals (4-2) managed to push five runners into scoring position, but McHugh proved elusive throughout while matching the seven scoreless innings he tossed at Kansas City on May 27, 2014.

“He was working both sides of the plate,” said Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer, who finished 3-for-4, of McHugh. “His cutter was really good today. He had a lot of movement on it. He was in to lefties and down and away to righties. We got into good counts, but he threw that when we were in those good counts, and it was really effective, really tough to get on that pitch.”

The Astros won their fourth consecutive home opener in part by slugging three doubles and two triples in addition to the Rasmus homer.

Young fell into trouble with his first pitch, surrendering a single to Altuve, who followed by swiping second base. That set the table for Correa, who delivered the Astros a 1-0 lead with a double to right field.

Rasmus then drilled a 2-2 fastball into the upper deck in right, his third home run of the season, boosting the Astros to a 3-0 advantage.

Houston posted another three-run inning in the fourth as four consecutive batters reached base. Altuve capped the rally with an RBI single that came on the heels of a Luis Valbuena double and a Jason Castro triple. Valbuena plated Preston Tucker, who walked with one out, and scored when Castro delivered his first extra-base hit of the season.

“The top of their lineup did a lot of the damage tonight and the bottom of the lineup did a little bit too,” said Young, who allowed six runs on nine hits and two walks with four strikeouts over 4 2/3 innings. “One through nine they are a very good team, very good lineup and you have to be on your game and I wasn’t where I needed to be tonight.”

The early run support allowed McHugh to settle in. After allowing six runs (five earned) while recording just one out last week against the Yankees, McHugh faced just two batters over the minimum through three innings and helped his cause by scurrying to first base to complete an inning-ending 3-6-1 double play in the fifth.

“It’s kind of the old adage but it’s true you have to flush those bad outings as soon as they happen,” McHugh said. “So after that night that was gone, it was out of my head and it was about getting ready for this start and preparing for this club. We did a really good job of executing our game plan.”

NOTES: Astros rookie 1B Tyler White was selected the American League Player of the Week on Monday after a memorable first week in the majors. White hit .556/.597/1.167 with three home runs and nine RBIs over six games. … The Royals kicked off their 2016 road schedule against the Astros, the first game of a seven-game swing that concludes in Oakland. Kansas City began the night with the best road record in the majors (133-110) since the start of the 2013 season. … The Angels claimed RHP Danny Reynolds off waivers on Sunday after the Astros designated him for assignment last Thursday. Reynolds was originally removed from the roster to make room for RHP Chris Devenski. … Astros RHP Lance McCullers joined OF Evan Gattis at Double-A Corpus Christi on Monday night, both on rehab assignments. McCullers started for the Hooks and worked three innings, allowing one run on three hits and no walks with four strikeouts in his first rehab start.

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