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Hunter Brown returns home as Astros battle Tigers

The Houston Astros’ No. 1 prospect will be much closer to home for his second major league outing.

Hunter Brown debuted on Sept. 5 and blanked the Texas Rangers for six innings with five strikeouts in Houston. The Rangers only managed three hits and one walk despite the 24-year-old right-hander’s first-game jitters.

He will make his second career start on Tuesday in the city he was born when the Astros visit the Detroit Tigers.

“I was definitely nervous,” Brown said of his debut. “As the outing went on, (the nerves) subsided.”

Brown (1-0, 0.00 ERA) showed off his power arm by throwing 41 fastballs at an average of 96.1 mph. His slider averaged 93 mph, and he mixed in 23 curveballs.

“We knew coming in that he was the No. 1 prospect for a reason,” Astros catcher Martin Maldonado said. “We think his stuff is electric. He’s going to get hitters out. Just go out there and compete. … He was a little fired up from the get-go. That’s nice to see.”

Opponents of Triple-A Sugar Land saw how nasty Brown can be in his 23 appearances this season, which included 14 starts. Brown had a 9-4 record and 2.55 ERA while striking out 134 batters in 106 innings.

Brown grew up in St. Clair Shores, Mich., and attended Lakeview High School. He frequently went to games at Detroit’s Comerica Park and went to college at Wayne State in the same city from 2017-19. He was selected by the Astros in the fifth round of 2019 draft.

He will have a large group of supporters at the ballpark on Tuesday.

“(Detroit) is where I started the dream of like, ‘I could be out there one day,'” Brown told the Detroit News. “It feels really good. Just really excited. I mean, you feel at home.”

Right-hander Drew Hutchison (2-7, 4.08 ERA) will make his 25th appearance and 15th start of the season for the Tigers (54-87) on Tuesday. Detroit has won his last three starts, though he’s only been credited with one of those victories.

Hutchison gave up two runs in four innings against the Los Angeles Angels in his most recent outing on Wednesday.

The right-hander has faced the Astros four times (three starts) in his career, going 1-1 with a 5.71 ERA.

The Tigers have been shut out in their past two games. They were blanked in the finale of a weekend series at Kansas City on Sunday before Houston’s Framber Valdez threw a complete-game shutout in the series opener on Monday. The Astros (91-50) hold a six-game lead on the New York Yankees (85-56) for the best record in the American League.

“We had opportunities early when (Valdez) was wobbling a little bit, but once he settled in, he was in total command,” Detroit manager A.J. Hinch said.

The Tigers had two runners thrown out at home. Riley Greene tried to score from third in the opening inning on Javier Baez’s broken-bat one-hopper to first base, but he was erased at the plate.

“Young mistakes,” Hinch said. “Riley misread the play.”

Willi Castro was thrown out at home in the third trying to score on a Baez single after taking a wide turn around third base.

Detroit has been shut out 21 times, a club record in the live-ball era. The Tigers will try to end that streak against the hometown rookie.

“Pretty much power across the board and we’ll get a first look at him (Tuesday),” Hinch said of Brown.

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