Houston improves to 15-12

Urquidy, Astros hold on to early runs to secure series against Rays

Jose Urquidy cruised through the Rays on Saturday. Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

After dominantly taking the series opener the night prior, the Astros returned to Tropicana Field to try and lock up a series win with a victory against the Rays on Saturday. They would do so, albeit with fewer runs scored but with a similar formula from their pitching, with Jose Urquidy giving his team another great outing from their starter.

Final Score: Astros 3, Rays 1

Astros' Record: 15-12, tied for second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jose Urquidy (2-2)

Losing Pitcher: Josh Fleming (1-3)

Astros get their damage done early



At least in the first inning, Houston's offense was able to pick up right where they left off on Friday night, getting early damage against Josh Fleming. Jose Altuve started the game by getting into scoring position, driving the game's first pitch for a double. That set up Alex Bregman for a one-out RBI single, then he and Yordan Alvarez, who worked a walk, would come around to score on a two-RBI single by Yuli Gurriel, putting the Astros out to the early 3-0 lead.

Urquidy cruises to seven scoreless

That gave Jose Urquidy runs on the board before he even took the mound, not that he needed all of them. On his 26th birthday, the right-hander from Mexico had himself a day, blanking the Rays over seven innings while allowing just four hits. At one point, he retired eleven straight, five on strikeouts. All told, it was a great start: 7.0 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 91 P.

Houston secures the series

The 3-0 score held long into the game, with Tampa Bay moving to their bullpen in the top of the seventh, then Houston in the bottom of the eighth when they brought in Brooks Raley. He kept the Rays off the board, retiring the three batters he faced, two via strikeout, to send the three-run game to the ninth.

Ryan Pressly would come in for the save opportunity, eventually converting it despite allowing a run to break up the shutout. The victory secures the series win for the Astros and temporarily moves them back into a tie with Seattle for second place in the division.

Up Next: This series's third and final game will start at 12:10 PM Central on Sunday from St. Petersburg. Cristian Javier (3-0, 0.87) will look to help Houston complete the sweep by continuing his early success in 2021, while Rich Hill (1-1, 7.25 ERA) will get the start for Tampa Bay.

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Kyle Tucker had a big day at the plate on Sunday. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

After splitting the first two games of the series, with one team or the other putting on a solid offensive performance in each, the Astros tried to win their fourth series in their last five by taking the rubber game on Sunday against the Blue Jays. Thanks in part to a big day from Kyle Tucker, who played a significant role in the early offense they used to power to the win, they would accomplish their mission.

Final Score: Astros 7, Blue Jays 4

Astros' Record: 18-16, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Bryan Abreu (2-1)

Losing Pitcher: Nate Pearson (0-1)

Kyle Tucker helps lead the offense to seven unanswered runs

Houston did not go easy on Nate Pearson in his 2021 debut. After a scoreless first, the Astros loaded the bases on two walks and a single, then brought the first run of the day home on an RBI walk by Michael Brantley. Another walk opened the door in the bottom of the third, and Kyle Tucker capitalized with an RBI triple to make it 2-0, followed by an RBI single by Robel Garcia to make it a three-run lead, ending Pearson's day one out into the bottom of the third.

Things didn't get easier for Toronto's pitching in the next inning, as Jose Altuve would lead off the bottom of the fourth with a solo homer. A single and a walk then set up another big hit for Kyle Tucker, a three-run dinger to make it seven unanswered runs and giving Tucker four RBI on the day.

Blue Jays pound Greinke in the fifth

After four shutout innings to start his day on the mound, working around a few hits along the way, Zack Greinke tried to cash in on his team's offense to get another win on his record. He wouldn't be able to get it done, though, as Toronto would get after him in the top of the fifth. They would score four times amongst five batters that came to the plate, with a solo homer by Rowdy Tellez, a two-RBI double by Bo Bichette, and an RBI single by Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

That made it a 7-4 game, and with Greinke still not having recorded an out in the frame, Dusty Baker would lift him at 88 pitches in favor of Bryan Abreu, who would get a pop out and a double play to end the inning and keep the lead at three runs. Greinke's final line: 4.0 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, 88 P.

Houston takes the series

No more runs would come on either side the rest of the way, with Kent Emanuel working around a single for a scoreless sixth, Ryne Stanek getting a 1-2-3 seventh, and Andre Scrubb doing the same in the eighth to set up Ryan Pressly for the save. Pressly would get the job done, sending the Blue Jays down in order, including two strikeouts to wrap up the win and giving Houston the series victory.

Up Next: The Astros will stay at home to continue this homestand, welcoming in the Angels for three games starting Monday at 7:10 PM Central. The opener will feature a pitching matchup of Alex Cobb (1-2, 5.48 ERA) for Los Angeles and Luis Garcia (0-3, 3.28 ERA) for Houston.

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