MAKING A DEAL

Astros acquire catcher Martin Maldonado from Angels

Martin Maldonado (center) will be joining the Astros after facing them his entire career. Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

The Astros have made a trade, however, it's not for a reliever. Instead, Houston has sent a pitching prospect to the Angels to get a catcher. 

On Thursday the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Angels struck a deal which sent pitching prospect Patrick Sandoval and cash to Los Angeles with catcher Martin Maldonado going to Houston. 

Maldonado is a veteran in the league who won a Gold Glove in the 2017 season with the Angels. He will be a rental for the Astros, becoming a free agent after the 2018 season. Maldonado has started 77 games for the Angels this year, during which he has continued to provide strength behind the plate like he did in his award-winning year last season. 

Martin gives the Astros some strength and experience behind the plate that they have needed since Brian McCann went down with his knee injury. With McCann's return still uncertain, it's a good move for the Astros to add some depth at the position, allowing them to switch out Max Stassi and Maldonado as needed instead of relying on Tim Federowicz. 

Looking at Maldonado's performance this year; he's currently leading the AL in putouts like he did last season, second in the AL in Caught Stealing percentage at 44.4%, and has the lowest passed balls at just 10. His best value is behind the plate, not necessarily as a hitter; he's hitting .223 on the season with just five home runs and 32 RBIs. 

The prospect the Astros gave up, Patrick Sandoval, has been in Houston's system since being drafted in the eleventh round of the 2015 draft. Sandoval has had a good year in 2018 in the minors, currently sitting with a 9-1 record and 2.56 ERA in 19 games, 13 of which were starts. He's pitched 88 innings over those 19 games, during which he's given up 25 earned runs while striking out 97 and holding opponents to a .213 average. 

Although not the highest prospect in the Astros' system, time will tell if it was worth giving up Sandoval for a few months of Maldonado's strength behind the plate. It's clear the Astros front office is determined to take advantage of their championship window and adding Maldonado could be a piece they need this offseason. 

Stats acquired from baseball-reference.com and milb.com

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Houston drops the game to Arizona

D-backs outslug Greinke and Astros to take series opener

Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

With the series win over the Rangers by taking two of three games in the middle of the week, the Astros welcomed the Diamondbacks to Minute Maid Park for a three-game weekend series, Houston's final three regular-season home games. Here is how the opener unfolded:

Final Score: Diamondbacks 6, Astros 3.

Record: 25-26, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Zac Gallen (2-2, 3.00 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Luis Garcia (0-1, 2.53 ERA).

Houston scores first, but Arizona grabs a lead against Greinke

Houston would get on the board first on Friday night, with George Springer reaching base in the bottom of the first on an error, moving to second on a walk, then to third on a single, as the Astros loaded the bases with no out to threaten a big inning. Instead, they would come away with just one run, with Springer taking home on a wild pitch, grabbing the 1-0 lead, but leaving runs on the table.

They doubled their lead in the bottom of the third, getting a two-out RBI-double by Kyle Tucker to make it a 2-0 Houston lead. The D-backs responded in the top of the fourth, getting back-to-back singles to lead off the inning before a three-run homer by Kole Calhoun off of Zack Greinke would put Arizona in front, 3-2. Greinke would finish one more inning before Houston would move to their bullpen, striking out the side to bring his total to nine on the night, making the bad fourth inning the one blemish on his night. His final line: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 9 K, 1 HR, 89 P.

Astros tie it, but D-backs take the opener

George Springer would get Greinke off the hook in the bottom of the fifth, leading off the half-inning with a solo bomb to tie the game at 3-3. Luis Garcia was first out of Houston's bullpen and retired Arizona in order for a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the sixth. He returned for the top of the seventh but would allow a leadoff single, RBI-triple, and wild pitch to bring in two runs. He would face two more batters, allowing a double and getting a strikeout, before Dusty Baker would come out to get him, now down 5-3.

Blake Taylor would make his return from the IL after Garcia, getting back-to-back outs to finish the inning. He continued on in the 5-3 game in the top of the eighth, but allowed a one-out solo homer to Calhoun, his second of the night and fourth RBI. That made it a 6-3 D-backs lead, which would go final as Houston would go scoreless after Springer's home run back in the fifth.

Up Next: The middle game of this three-game set will start Saturday at 6:10 PM Central. The pitching matchup will be Luke Weaver (1-7, 6.70 ERA) for Arizona and Cristian Javier (4-2, 3.22 ERA) for Houston.

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