DETROIT – The Houston Astros were having a miserable defensive inning. Two mistakes — one mental, one physical — had put Detroit runners on first and second, nobody out and one run already in against rookie righthander Lance McCullers.
"I'm thinking we're in trouble," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "We had no outs, we had the bullpen getting ready, so we had a lot of action going. And then [Ian] Kinsler hits it to probably the perfect spot."
Kinsler hit a ground ball near third base that turned into a triple play in the fifth, and McCullers went on to earn his first career victory Saturday as the Astros beat the Detroit Tigers 3-2.
Detroit led 2-1 when Kinsler hit the grounder to Jonathan Villar, who stepped on third and threw to second. Jose Altuve relayed the ball to first.
"There's nothing you can really do about that, just a one-hopper right on top of the base," Kinsler said. "It was basically a perfect ball for a triple play."
It was Houston's first triple play since 2004; the Astros followed that up by scoring two runs in the sixth to go ahead.
McCullers (1-0) allowed two runs and six hits with six strikeouts over six innings in his second career start.
The Houston bullpen did not allow a baserunner. Luke Gregerson pitched the ninth for his 11th save in 12 chances.
The triple play was a highlight of what was generally a sloppy game.
McCullers threw a wild pitch during an intentional walk in the third, and it looked like Houston's defense might cost the Astros the game in the fifth.
Then Kinsler hit his grounder to third, and McCullers was out of the inning.
"I saw Villar step on third and throw it to second, and I was thinking, you know, maybe we had a chance," McCullers said.
Houston's most recent triple play had been Aug. 19, 2004.