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Lance McCullers victorious in first start back from Tommy John surgery

Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. throws against the Seattle Mariners during the first inning of a baseball game Saturday, July 25, 2020, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. throws against the Seattle Mariners during the first inning of a baseball game Saturday, July 25, 2020, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

HOUSTON – Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. is back and looking similar to what he showed the Astros in 2015-2018. McCullers finished with six strong innings, giving up just two scattered late runs, including a solo home run.

Early jitters

McCullers got into trouble in the first inning, giving up a walk, double and walk to load the bases. He got out of it with a double-play ball.

In the second inning, McCullers again issued a walk. This time handed to the inning’s leadoff hitter Dan Vogelbach. Dee Gordon followed with a single before McCullers got another double play.

Groudball machine

McCullers had one of the best ground ball rates in the majors and showed that again Saturday. He completed 12 of his 18 outs via the groundball. The other six via strikeout. McCullers had zero fly ball outs during the game.

Late swinging strikes

McCullers, who is a strong strikeout pitcher, only got three swinging strikes in the first three innings. McCullers got three swinging strikes in the fourth inning alone. McCullers got three more in the 5th. In the end, he finished with six strikeouts in six innings, a K/9 rate of 9.0, which the Astros are more than happy with.