Houston has a hot night at the plate

Astros power past Rays in series opener

Houston started this series against the Rays hot at the plate. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Despite a loss to end the recent homestand, the Astros were still riding the momentum of a 6-2 record over their last eight games heading into this road trip and three-game series with the Rays at Tropicana Field. They would back Lance McCullers Jr., who had a great night on the mound, with plenty of runs to grab the win in the opener Friday night.

Final Score: Astros 9, Rays 2

Astros' Record: 14-12, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (2-1)

Losing Pitcher: Ryan Yarbrough (1-3)

Astros open a big lead early

Houston was able to beat up on Ryan Yarbrough to put up some early runs. They scored one run on three hits in the top of the first with an RBI single by Carlos Correa, setting the tone and grabbing a 1-0 lead. They added three more in the third, two on a home run by Alex Bregman and another on an RBI groundout by Aledmys Diaz.

Martin Maldonado led off the fourth with a triple, then came around to make it a 5-0 game on an RBI single by Michael Brantley. Yarbrough battled back to save his bullpen somewhat, getting through six innings before Tampa Bay would have to dip into their relievers.

McCullers Jr. impresses with seven shutout innings

That gave Lance McCullers Jr. plenty of room to work with on the mound for Houston. He navigated through the first six innings while shutting out the Rays, allowing just three hits and three walks over that span while striking out seven. After his offense gave him another run in the top of the seventh on an RBI single by Diaz, his second RBI of the night, McCullers Jr. would continue on in the seventh, starting the inning at 97 pitches. He would get a quick frame to cap off his impressive night, retiring the Rays 1-2-3 on two more strikeouts. His final line: 7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 9 K, 111 P.

Astros get a dominant win to start the series

Kent Emanuel, who was electric in his major-league debut in his last appearance where he went 8.2 shutout innings, took over in the eighth out of Houston's bullpen. He worked around a one-out single for a scoreless inning before Houston would tack on more insurance in the top of the ninth on a two-RBI double by Aledmys Diaz and a sac fly by Myles Straw, making it 9-0.

Andre Scrubb, who was activated Friday, made his first appearance of 2021 in the bottom of the ninth with the nine-run lead. He would finish off the win, but not before allowing Tampa Bay's first two runs of the night with a two-out two-RBI single to break up the shutout.

Up Next: The middle game of this three-game set will start at 3:10 PM Central on Saturday. Josh Fleming (1-2, 1.23 ERA) will be on the mound for the Rays, while Jose Urquidy (1-2, 4.67 ERA) will get the start for the Astros.

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Houston went yard several times

Astros take series from Angels with a home run parade

Houston homered their way to another series win Wednesday night. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

After losing the opener then winning an exciting game Tuesday night, the Astros were seeking another series victory by winning the rubber match on Wednesday. They would blast homers all through the night, pushing them over the Angels in the finale.

Final Score: Astros 9, Angels 1

Astros' Record: 20-17, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Brandon Bielak (2-2)

Losing Pitcher: Andrew Heaney (1-3)

Astros grab an early lead, Urquidy exits with injury

Houston made early noise in Wednesday night's game, with Jose Altuve turning around the very first pitch of the bottom of the first inning for a solo homer. A two-out single later in the inning set up Yuli Gurriel for his seventh home run and 30th RBI of the season, putting the Astros out to an early 3-0 lead.

Jose Urquidy looked in control through the first three innings, allowing just two hits while maintaining the lead. However, after recording the second out of the fourth, he would be visited by training and coaching staff on the mound before being removed, later diagnosed with posterior shoulder discomfort. Brandon Bielak would quickly enter the game, picking up where Urquidy left off by keeping the Angels off the board.

Tucker stays hot as Bielak locks in out of the bullpen

Still 3-0 in the bottom of the sixth, Kyle Tucker would extend his recent hot streak by putting two more runs on the board with a blast to extend the lead to 5-0. Bielak remained in the game in the top of the seventh, having allowed just one hit while retiring all other batters since entering in the top of the fourth. He made it through that inning, putting Los Angeles down 1-2-3, and stayed on the mound in the top of the eighth.

He wouldn't be able to get any further, allowing a leadoff walk followed by a single, putting runners on the corners and prompting Dusty Baker to go to the third pitcher of the night, Andre Scrubb. The Angels would get on the board with a sac fly to make it 5-1, but Scrubb would finish the inning with no further damage.

Astros continue the home run barrage to take the series

Yordan Alvarez would get the run back with Houston's fourth dinger of the night, a solo shot to make it 6-1. They continued to pour it on, with Chaz McCormick joining the home run parade with a three-run blast later in the inning, making it 9-1. Joe Smith would take over on the mound in the top of the ninth, finishing off the lopsided win to give Houston the series victory as they turn the page to another division opponent.

Up Next: Having already faced the rest of the division in 2021 multiple times, the Astros will have their first series against the Texas Rangers starting Thursday at 7:10 PM Central at Minute Maid Park. In the opener, Cristian Javier (3-1, 2.90 ERA) will be on the mound for Houston, going up against Mike Foltynewicz (1-3, 4.50 ERA).

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