McCullers Jr. fights illness as Astros get swept by Tigers

Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. throws against the Detroit Tigers during the first inning of a baseball game Wednesday, April 14, 2021, in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke) (Michael Wyke, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

HOUSTON – The Astros have gone from a 5-1 start to the new baseball season after a fast start on the road in Oakland and Anaheim to now a team that lacks clutch hitting and quality starts from the starting pitchers.

The losing skid now sits at five games after the A.J. Hinch-led Tigers came to town and completed a three-game sweep at Minute Maid Park.

Lance McCullers Jr. got the start on a day the Astros put five players, including Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Yordan Alvarez, on the COVID-injury list. It’s not known if they tested positive or if it’s a contact tracing situation. All General Manager James Click said on a zoom call was that it is tied to Health and Safety protocols.

McCullers disagreed with the decision by the league to play the game.

“I’m our player rep, so I was dealing with a lot today,” said McCullers after the game Wednesday night. “I don’t understand why we played tonight, and it seems like rules are different for different teams. Lot of questions we’ve got to get figured out now as a team.”

McCullers’ outing lasted only three 2/3′s innings and he gave up six earned runs. Dusty Baker pointed out McCullers pitched despite being very ill. McCullers, not making excuses, did elaborate on his health the past few days.

“I’ve been sick the past couple of days. I got the COVID vaccine a couple of days back,” said McCullers. “I’ve been feeling under the weather but felt I could throw it well and give us a chance to win.”

“I got the J & J vaccine ( Johnson and Johnson) and was pretty ill for the first few days,” said McCullers. “We felt it would have been better if weren’t (at Minute Maid Park) today. It was the smartest thing to do, but we were overruled.”

The Astros will now try to regroup and travel to Seattle where they open a road trip on Friday night against the Mariners.