BROWN SHOVES, ASTROS DEFEAT ROCKIES

Brown strong again as Astros extend streak to 6 with win over Rockies

Brown strong again as Astros extend streak to 6 with win over Rockies
Astros defeat the Rockies, 5-2. Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images.

Hunter Brown struck out seven in six scoreless innings and Chas McCormick drove in two runs as the Houston Astros used a big first inning to beat the Colorado Rockies 5-2 on Tuesday night.

Brown (5-5) allowed two hits to win his fourth straight start and help the Astros tie a season-high with their sixth consecutive win.

Jake Meyers tied a season high with three hits and Jose Altuve had two hits and an RBI as the Astros moved within a game of .500 at 39-40.

Michael Toglia hit a solo home run for Colorado with one out in the ninth and pinch-hitter Jacob Stallings walked with two outs. But Josh Hader struck out Brenton Doyle to end it.

It was the fourth loss in five games for the Rockies and their 10th consecutive loss at Minute Maid Park dating to Aug. 15, 2018.

The Astros jumped on starter Austin Gomber (1-5) for five runs in the first inning after scoring four runs in the opening frame of an 8-1 win over the Orioles on Sunday.

Altuve hit a leadoff single and stole second base before scoring on a single by Alex Bregman. Yainer Diaz and Jake Meyers drove in runs before McCormick smacked a line drive to center field to score two more.

Gomber settled down after the tough first inning, allowing only one single over the next four innings. He allowed eight hits and struck out four in 5 1/3 innings for his fourth straight loss. He was lifted after a double by Meyers with one out in the sixth.

The Rockies didn’t get a hit until Ezequiel Tovar singled to start the fourth inning, but he was erased when Ryan McMahon grounded into a forceout. Brendan Rodgers singled after that before Brown retired the next two batters to end the inning.

Seth Martinez hit Doyle with a pitch to start the eighth and McMahon singled with one out to send him to third. Rodgers singled to right field to score Doyle and make it 5-1.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Rockies: OF Charlie Blackmon (right hamstring strain) stayed in Denver to work out this week, but manager Bud Black said he’s doing better. Black added that Blackmon, whose stint on the injured list was backdated to June 19, should be able to return the first day he’s eligible to come off the IL.

Astros: OF Kyle Tucker (bruised right shin) remains sore but is making progress, according to manager Joe Espada. Tucker took swings off a batting tee this weekend and Espada said the next step is to do some work in the outfield.

UP NEXT

Houston RHP Spencer Arrighetti (3-6, 6.36 ERA) opposes RHP Ryan Feltner (1-6, 6.02) in the series finale Wednesday.

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The Astros are back in action Friday night against Seattle. Composite Getty Image.

The Astros were a season low 12 games under .500 (12-24) on May 8th but were able to turn things around and entered the All-Star break with a respectable 50-46 record.

The turnaround can be attributed to better performances on the field by a multitude of players, but there are still things that could be improved to ensure a successful second half of the season.

As it currently stands, Houston is only one game behind the Seattle Mariners in the American League West division race, and the Astros should have key players returning from injury to further bolster their playoff ambitions.

The return of the King

Kyle Tucker has been on the injured list with a shin contusion for six weeks now, and looks to return in the near future.

The Astros have done surprisingly well without their three-time All-Star outfielder thanks to contributions from guys like Joey Loperfido, Jake Meyers and Marcio Dubon in the outfield. Plus, Jose Altuve, Yordan Alvarez, Alex Bregman, Yanier Diaz and Jeremy Pena carrying the offense while King Tuck is away.

Before getting hurt, the 27-year-old was hitting .266/.395/.584 through 60 games. Houston already has one of the best offenses in baseball, and adding Tucker back would give the Astros another high-quality bat to further bolster their lineup.

The latest update is Tucker has been playing catch and could start a rehab assignment soon if all goes well.

Fix the rotation

Starting pitching has been a major issue this season due to a multitude of injuries.

Cristian Javier, Jose Urquidy and J.P. France have all been lost for the year with various surgeries and guys like Justin Verlander and Luis Garcia are trying to work their way back from their injured list stints.

Garcia was recently pulled from his rehab assignment and won’t pitch again until he is ready. Meanwhile, Verlander could be closer to his return and is throwing bullpen sessions as of July 14. Getting both of these pitchers back at some point this season will be a huge boost to this roster.

The current Astros’ rotation consists of Framber Valdez, Ronel Blanco, Hunter Brown, Spencer Arrighetti and Jake Bloss. Although not a bad rotation by any means, the starting pitching depth is getting pretty thin and Houston can ill afford another injury to their staff.

Astros general manager Dana Brown has been vocal about his desire to add starting pitching, and could have some options heading into the trade deadline. Players like Jack Flaherty, Garrett Crochet or Yusei Kikuchi, just to name a few, could be low risk high reward pitchers the Astros could acquire to add depth to their rotation.

Another option would be to call up A.J. Blubaugh from Sugar Land. The 24-year-old has a 6-2 record with a 3.46 ERA in 71.1 innings pitched this season for the Space Cowboys and could be a necessary depth piece to add to the rotation.

Play Astros baseball

The Astros have been playing better baseball as of late and have won 18 of their last 23 games. With players like Kyle Tucker and Justin Verlander potentially returning soon, there is reason to believe Houston can make the playoffs for the 8th consecutive season.

The 'Stros will try to take sole possession of first place in their division from the Mariners when the two teams meet for three games at T-Mobile Park starting on Friday night.

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