Houston Astros raising eyebrows with sudden roster move to reinforce offense

STONE COLD 'STROS

The Houston Astros are coming off a series split against the New York Yankees, with the AL leading Baltimore Orioles next on the schedule.

While the Astros are still in a good spot with their pitching (2nd in team ERA), the offense continues to be the group struggling for consistency. Houston has now fallen to 15th in team OPS and slugging, with several players going through a tough stretch right now.

While many have been quick to point at Jeremy Pena's issues as of late, he actually has more hits than Alex Bregman and Jose Abreu combined over the last seven games.

Astros GM Dana Brown made it clear before the All-Star break that the team would like to add a left-handed bat to the roster, but Brown wasn't able to find a trade that wouldn't include an Astro on the current major league roster.

But the Astros do have Jon Singleton in Triple A hitting the cover off the ball with an OPS over 1100 in his 33 games with the Space Cowboys. According to reports, he is heading to Baltimore to join the Astros with Corey Julks being optioned back to Sugar Land.

Can Singleton provide a much-needed spark down the stretch for Houston? If he hits well in his limited opportunities, perhaps he can get some starts at first base from time to time, and give Jose Abreu some much-needed rest.

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Astros beat the Mariners 4-2. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

Jake Meyers hit a go-ahead two-run homer off former Houston reliever Ryne Stanek in the seventh inning, and the Astros beat the Seattle Mariners 4-2 on Saturday night to take sole possession of the AL West lead for the first time this year.

Stuck playing catchup through the first 3½ months of the season, Houston has won six of eight to climb into first place all alone.

Seattle lost its fifth straight and fell out of first place for the first time since May 11.

Meyers drove a 1-2 pitch from Stanek (6-3) to right-center field for his 11th homer. Stanek opened the inning by walking Jeremy Peña, and the homer by Meyers cost George Kirby the chance at a victory after he allowed one run in six innings.

Yainer Diaz added a solo homer in the eighth off reliever Trent Thornton that bounced off the top of the wall.

Julio Rodríguez snapped Seattle’s 14-inning scoreless drought when his two-run homer off Framber Valdez gave the Mariners a 2-1 lead in the sixth. It was his 11th of the season and Rodríguez nearly hit a second longball in the eighth off Ryan Pressly only to watch Trey Cabbage make a leaping catch at the wall in right field.

It was one of two terrific defensive plays by the Astros in the eighth as Joey Loperfido ended the inning with a diving grab of Mitch Garver’s drive into the left-field corner and saved one run from scoring.

Valdez pitched 5 2/3 innings. He allowed three hits, four walks and struck out six. Tayler Scott (7-3) got the final out of the sixth before Bryan Abreu, Pressly and Josh Hader closed out the final three innings. Hader earned his 20th save.

Kirby allowed four hits and struck out six. Houston’s only run off him came on Peña’s infield single that scored Alex Bregman in the fourth.

UNUSUAL STRIKEOUT

Houston slugger Yordan Alvarez struck out to end the first inning when he was called for a pitch-clock violation for not being ready in the box prior to a 3-2 delivery from Kirby.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: RHPs Justin Verlander (neck discomfort) and Luis Garcia (Tommy John surgery) threw bullpens. Verlander threw about 40 pitches with increased intensity, while Garcia threw 15 pitches. Both are expected to throw again sometime early next week. … C Victor Caratini (hip) was expected to catch for a second straight day at Double-A Corpus Christi.

UP NEXT

Astros: RHP Ronel Blanco (9-4, 2.56 ERA) has allowed three earned runs or fewer in seven straight starts, but lost to Texas in his last outing before the All-Star break.

Mariners: RHP Bryan Woo (3-1, 2.45) will make just his second start since June 24. Woo allowed four runs in 3 1/3 innings on July 12.

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