McHugh encouraged by season debut

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“It was good to be back out there,” McHugh said. “I felt like we did some really good things today. I missed too many spots with my fastball. My command was a little spotty all day with my heater. It kind of came back to bite us there in the fifth, but I thought we did some good things.”

Tillman, Castillo turn two

McHugh began throwing a slider to right-handers (in place of his cut fastball) during his penultimate Minor League rehab outing. It’s a pitch he learned from teammate Brad Peacock, who learned it from Triple-A pitcher Jordan Jankowski.

“It was pretty effective at times today, so hopefully we can continue to refine it moving forward and it can be a weapon for us,” he said.

McHugh overcame a 27-pitch first inning and was rolling through four innings, having allowed just one hit. He walked Seth Smith to start the fifth and recorded two outs before giving up two-run homers to Jones and Schoop.

“I don’t want the last inning to take away how well he threw the ball,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “He had a little extra on his fastball tonight. I thought that was notable. He’s worked on a little slider that’s a complement to his cutter and that was very effective against some of their right-handed hitters. You know, at the end, he left a couple fastballs in the zone and he was behind in the count to two pretty good home run hitters in a home run ballpark, so it’s unfortunate that his outing ended that way because he pitched extraordinarily well for the first four innings.”

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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