HOUSTON (AP) — The Houston Astros are going to have to make some adjustments to their rotation when Lance McCullers comes off the disabled list.
With the way Mike Fiers is pitching lately, he’s making a strong case to keep his spot.
Jose Altuve had three RBIs and Colby Rasmus added two as the Astros jumped on Corey Kluber for five runs in the third and cruised to a 7-1 win over the Cleveland Indians on Monday night.
Fiers (3-1) allowed season lows of one run and three hits in seven innings for his third straight win.
“It’s crowded and that’s not a complaint out of me,” Hinch said of the rotation. “We’re going to need every single one of these guys in different stages of the season. It’s not the most comfortable decision … (but) if I’ve got too many choices they’re all good and it won’t matter which way I go.”
McCullers had a 3.22 ERA in 22 games as a rookie last season, but has spent all of this season on the disabled list with a sore throwing shoulder.
“I’m not worried about Lance,” Fiers said. “Lance is a great pitcher, and we can definitely use him. I definitely needed that, personally, and as a team, we need to get rolling here. So it was a great start, and that’s what I’m going to take out of it.”
Altuve drove in two with a double in the third and Rasmus had a two-run single later in the inning to make it 4-0.
Kluber (2-4), coming off the second shutout of his career in his last outing against the Tigers, was chased after just 2 2/3 innings. He entered with a 1.48 ERA in five career appearances against the Astros, and had allowed just five earned runs in 30 1/3 innings against them.
On Monday he gave up five runs and five hits while walking three in his first loss since April 17.
“I just didn’t really locate pitches,” he said. “The first few guys, I fell behind on and tried to get back in the zone to get in the count, but they took advantage of pitches that weren’t well located.”
Kluber struck out the side in the first inning and didn’t allow a hit until a single by Luis Valbuena to start the third inning. Jason Castro doubled before Altuve’s double scored them both to make it 2-0.
Kluber then walked George Springer on four pitches before a single by Carlos Correa loaded the bases. The single by Rasmus to right field sent two more home to push the lead to 4-0 as Springer barely beat the throw home on the play.
They tacked on another run on a groundout by Marwin Gonzalez before Kluber retired Preston Tucker. Carlos Gomez then drew a walk to chase Kluber, who was replaced by Kyle Crockett.
It was Kluber’s shortest outing of the season and snapped a streak of three straight games where he pitched at least seven innings. Crockett finally ended the inning on the 10th batter when he struck out Valbuena.
Fiers had retired six in a row when Rajai Davis doubled to the corner of left field to start the sixth inning. He advanced to third on a groundout by Carlos Santana and the Indians cut the lead to 5-1 when he scored on a groundout by Jason Kipnis.
Valbuena doubled in the sixth and scored on a sacrifice fly by Altuve to make it 6-1.
Correa helped Fiers out early when he laid out to make a diving catch on a low line drive hit by Lonnie Chisenhall for the first out of the third inning.
Gomez, who is hitting just .210, snapped a 0 for 11 slump and drove in just his fifth run this season with a single in the eighth inning to make it 7-1.
Astros: McCullers (right shoulder soreness) was traveling to Houston on Monday and was scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Tuesday before the Astros decide if he’ll go out on another rehabilitation assignment or come off the disabled list.