Houston wins both against Colorado

Diaz's big day helps lead Astros to two-game sweep of Rockies

Astros' Aledmys Diaz
Aledmyz Diaz's big day at the plate helped lead Houston's offense to a win over the Rockies. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Aledmyz Diaz's big day at the plate helped lead Houston's offense to a win over the Rockies.

With less than 50 games left in the regular season, the Astros made a quick turnaround from Tuesday night's win to try and get the mini-sweep against the Rockies on Wednesday afternoon. They would come out on top, thanks to a big day by Aledmys Diaz and solid pitching.

Final Score: Astros 5, Rockies 1

Astros' Record: 68-46, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Framber Valdez (8-3)

Losing Pitcher: Antonio Senzatela (2-9)

Valdez rebounds from first inning trouble

After shutting out Colorado over the nine innings less than 24 hours ago, the Astros allowed a run to the Rockies in the top of the first. Framber Valdez allowed two singles to the first three batters he faced, setting up the RBI single to make it a 1-0 score before the Astros could get to the plate. Luckily, Valdez rebounded from that, tossing 1-2-3 frames in the second and third, erasing a single in the fourth, stranding two in the fifth, then finishing his day by working around a hit by pitch and walk in the sixth. His final line: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 8 K, 100 P.

Diaz leads Houston's offense with timely hitting

Houston quickly backed Valdez up after his first-inning run, getting one of their own on an RBI single by Aledmys Diaz to tie things up in the bottom of the same inning. They grabbed the lead in the bottom of the third, with Yordan Alvarez getting on base with a one-out double to set up Diaz's second RBI of the day, another single to put the Astros in front 2-1. The score stayed there until the bottom of the sixth, where Jake Meyers led the inning off with a single, stole second, tagged to third on a lineout, then beat out a throw home on a sac fly by Martin Maldonado to extend the lead to 3-1.

Astros get the two-game sweep

Houston turned to their bullpen starting in the top of the seventh, with Ryne Stanek taking over for Valdez. Stanek kept the score at 3-1, giving up a two-out double to Trevor Story but stranding him by ending the frame with a strikeout. Carlos Correa added an insurance run with an RBI double in the bottom half, as did Diaz, his third RBI hit of the day to make it a four-run lead. Kendall Graveman was the next reliever for the Astros and made it through a 1-2-3 frame on just eight pitches in the top of the eighth. Ryan Pressly came in to close things out in the top of the ninth, erasing a leadoff walk to wrap up the victory.

Up Next: Houston will get a day off on Thursday as they travel to Los Angeles to pick up a three-game set with the Angels starting at 8:38 PM Central on Friday. The opener pitching matchup is expected to be Patrick Sandoval (3-5, 3.39 ERA) for LA and Zack Greinke (10-3, 3.69 ERA) for the Astros.

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With both Luis Garcia and Lance McCullers making their way back from surgeries that sideline that Astros pitchers last season, and given the team's thin depth in their starting rotation, Houston fans and media have waited on bated breath for scraps of information to leak out of the notoriously secretive organization regarding their progress.

In a week full of mostly Hurricane Beryl-related bad news, the Astros organization had some discouraging news of their own when manager Joe Espada told the media that Lance McCullers has been shut down from pitching after his arm did not respond well to his latest bullpen session. The team says they are "formulating a plan for what's next."

Another Astros starter making his way back from injury is HOF-bound Justin Verlander. Verlander has been on the IL since June 16th with neck discomfort and, while there was initial hope that JV would only miss a start, his status has become increasingly murky as he is still apparently not close to returning.

Shifting from the health questions of the starters to the performance questions of the bullpen, some Houston fans have voiced concern via social media that Astros big-ticket 9th inning pitcher Josh Hader is not looking like a "shut-down" closer. Hader gave up more home runs in the first week of July (3) as he did the entire month of June (2).

In this week's episode of Stone Cold Stros, Charlie Pallilo and Brandon Strange discuss how the fluid dynamics of Astros pitching is impacting the competitive landscape of the division race. To watch the conversation, just click the video YouTube embedded in this article. To listen to the entire episode on podcast, search "Stone Cold Stros" in your favorite podcast app or click one of the following links.

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