Houston's bullpen struggles again

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 3 hits from the 5-3 loss

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

After a humiliating loss on Tuesday to even the series with Oakland and leave their magic number stagnant, Houston was back in action Wednesday night trying to get back in the win column. Here is a recap of the third of four games in this series with the A's:

Final Score: A's 5, Astros 3.

Record: 95-52, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Brett Anderson (12-9, 4.07 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Josh James (5-1, 5.20 ERA).

1) Urquidy fills in with a great start


With Miley lasting just one out the night before with the bullpen filling the other 26, and Wednesday already slated to be a bullpen day, Houston looked to Jose Urquidy to cover as many innings as possible. He met the call in a significant way, tossing a great game to keep his team in position to win.

Urquidy was sharp and efficient, only allowing one hit and one walk over his five innings of work while recording double-digit strikeouts. Although the one hit was a game-tying solo home run in the fourth inning, it was still a terrific start. His final line: 5 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 10 K, 1 HR.

2) Oakland pulls ahead in the sixth


Urquidy would leave in line for the win after his offense gave him a 2-1 lead. The first run came by way of a dinger by George Springer, a solo shot in the bottom of the third to put Houston ahead 1-0 at the time. After Oakland tied the game 1-1 in the top half of the fourth, Houston regained the lead in the bottom half with Yordan Alvarez reaching on an infield single then scoring on an RBI-double by Aledmys Diaz, making it a 2-1 Astros advantage.

Josh James took over for Urquidy to start the sixth inning, but like many of Houston's pitchers the day before would struggle with Oakland's batters. He allowed three runs without recording an out before Houston would move on to another pitcher. Joe Smith would get out of the inning, but not without allowing a fourth run to extend Oakland's lead to 5-2.

3) Houston gets one run back, but come up short

Houston got one of those runs back in the bottom of the sixth on a two-out solo home run by Martin Maldonado, trimming the lead to two runs at 5-3. Hector Rondon was the next reliever out for Houston and was able to work around a one-out walk to toss a scoreless frame.

Will Harris pitched the top of the eighth and although he battled against a double and a walk, was able to keep Oakland from extending their lead. With the Astros unable to score in the seventh or eighth, the sent Bryan Abreu to the mount in the ninth to try and keep it a two-run game and give them a chance to walk it off in the bottom half.

Abreu looked great, getting a couple of strikeouts in a 1-2-3 inning. Houston would come up empty in the bottom half, dropping the game and giving Oakland a 2-1 advantage in the four-game series.

Up Next: The final game in this series will be Thursday night with another 7:10 PM start. The Astros will look to Justin Verlander (18-5, 2.52 ERA) for another gem to split the series with a win, while Oakland will send Homer Bailey (12-8, 4.87 ERA) to the mound.

The Astros daily report is presented by APG&E.

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Houston couldn't keep up

Astros fall to Blue Jays as Toronto gets homer-happy

Houston's bats couldn't keep up with Toronto's Saturday night. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

With an offensive clinic in the opener on Friday night, which helped them handily defeat the Blue Jays, the Astros returned to Minute Maid Park Saturday with a chance to secure another series. Toronto had other plans, though, reversing roles with Houston by getting big home runs to even the series.

Final Score: Blue Jays 8, Astros 4

Astros' Record: 17-16, third in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Steven Matz (5-2)

Losing Pitcher: Cristian Javier (3-1)

Toronto flips the script and turns on their offense against Javier

Toronto flipped the script from the night before early in this middle game of the series, dealing damage to Cristian Javier, who so far in 2021 had been able to limit his amount of earned runs. After retiring the first four batters he faced, a one-out walk in the top of the second set up the Blue Jays' first hit of the night, a two-run home run by Cavan Biggio, giving them a 2-0 lead over Houston.

After a leadoff home run made it a 3-0 score, Javier would deal with the fallout of more walks in the top of the third, issuing two to set up a two-out two-RBI double to give the Jays a commanding 5-0 advantage. Javier would battle back and complete five full innings, getting one out into the sixth before a walk would prompt Dusty Baker to make the call to the bullpen. His final line: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, 8 K, 2 HR, 91 P.

Alvarez keeps mashing as Houston tries to claw back into it

Javier would exit with at least some runs on the board in support of him, with Yordan Alvarez hitting a two-run opposite-field homer in the bottom of the fourth to cut the lead to three runs. Alvarez accounted for another run in the next inning, coming through with an RBI-single to make it 5-3, which is where the game stood as Andre Scrubb would take over in the top of the sixth.

Scrubb finished that inning for Javier and returned for a 1-2-3 seventh to keep it a two-run game. Bryan Abreu was the next reliever, and he, too, was able to retire the Blue Jays in order in the top of the eighth. The Astros continued to chip away at Toronto's lead, getting another run in the bottom of the inning on an RBI by Yuli Gurriel to make it 5-4 heading to the ninth.

Toronto evens the series

Brooks Raley entered to try and keep it a one-run game with a clean inning, but instead, two runners would reach on a walk and error before Joe Smith would enter to try and strand them. Instead, a two-out home run put the game back out of reach at 8-4, with Houston coming up empty in the bottom of the inning, setting up a rubber match in the finale.

Up Next: This series's third and final game will be an afternoon start of 1:10 PM Central on Sunday. Zack Greinke (2-1, 3.76 ERA) will try to add more wins to his record for Houston, while Nate Pearson will be making his 2021 debut for Toronto.

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