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Houston Astros have a new plan in place to address their biggest weakness

Houston Astros have a new plan in place to address their biggest weakness
Joey Loperfido is joining the big league club. Composite Getty Image.

The Houston Astros are promoting first baseman Joey Loperfido from Triple-A Sugar Land as they try to solve problems at the position.

The team announced Monday that Loperfido will be added to the roster before the start of Tuesday night’s series against Cleveland.

The move comes with veteran first baseman José Abreu off to a terrible start as the Astros have limped out to a 9-19 record, which is the second-worst in the American League. Abreu, who is in the second year of a three-year, $58.5 million contract, is hitting .099 with just one extra-base hit and three RBIs. In 77 plate appearances across 22 games this season, the 37-year-old has managed just seven hits.

The left-handed Loperfido will join the Astros after getting off to a terrific start in Sugar Land where he hit .287 with 13 homers and 27 RBIs in 25 games. The 13 homers lead the minor leagues and he's tied for third with 17 extra-base hits.

The 24-year-old, who is rated as Houston’s No. 6 prospect by MLB.com, was a seventh-round pick from Duke in the 2021 amateur draft. Loperfido, who is also an outfielder, spent four seasons in the team’s minor league system and was named Astros minor league player of the year last season.

The Astros will make a corresponding roster move Tuesday when he is activated.

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Mariners defeat Astros, 3-2. Composite Getty Image.

Bryce Miller allowed two runs over six innings to pick up his first win since April 17, and the Seattle Mariners used a big first inning against Houston starter Framber Valdez to hold on for a 3-2 win over the Astros on Monday night.

Seattle scored three times in the first off Valdez and then leaned on its pitching to make the early lead stand up. Miller did his part and then turned it over to relievers Trent Thornton, Gabe Speier and Andrés Muñoz to close out the victory.

Muñoz got three outs for his 11th save.

Miller (4-5) had lost his last four decisions, including his past three starts. In his four previous May starts, Miller allowed 15 earned runs after yielding just eight runs over six starts during the first month of the season.

But he seemed to rediscover a bit of his dominant form from that first month, striking out six and walking a pair. Miller said part of the success was noticing batters being more aggressive on his pitches early in counts, forcing him to be better with his location.

“For me (it's) just trying to make sure I'm still getting ahead, but with certain hitters in the lineup not making a mistake just trying to get ahead,” Miller said. “Being aggressive on the corner early and then working off of that.”

Miller cruised through the first four innings and retired 12 straight after issuing a walk to Kyle Tucker, the second batter of the game. But he ran into trouble in the fifth when he gave up three straight singles, the last coming from José Abreu, which scored Jake Meyers. Victor Caratini’s sacrifice fly plated another run and after Jose Altuve doubled, Miller escaped the jam by getting a groundout from Tucker.

Miller again pitched out of trouble in the sixth, putting two runners on before Jon Singleton flied out to the warning track in right-center to end the threat.

Abreu was recalled from Triple-A Sugar Land ahead of Monday’s game and his single was his first big league hit since April 27. The 2020 AL MVP was batting .099 when he accepted an assignment to the minors on May 1.

All of Seattle’s offense came early. Meyers made a terrific sliding catch to rob Cal Raleigh of extra bases but it still resulted in a sacrifice fly. Ty France and Mitch Haniger followed with two-out RBI singles as Valdez faced eight batters in the first inning. He needed 43 pitches to get through the first two innings, but Seattle was unable to add on.

“We had all kinds of traffic and we had some good at-bats when we did have traffic out there. Unfortunately, sometimes the ball doesn't land on the grass like you want it to," Mariners manager Scott Servais said.

Valdez (3-3) allowed just two baserunners over his final four innings on the mound and was able to get through six. He permitted six hits, struck out four and walked three.

“I thought it took him a little bit of time for his sinker to be down and to execute. He just wasn't executing his pitches like he wanted to," Houston manager Joe Espada said. "Then after that he settled in and he threw a heck of a game.”

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Astros: RHP Hunter Brown (1-5, 7.06 ERA) allowed just two hits and two runs over six innings in his last start but took his fifth loss.

Mariners: RHP Luis Castillo (4-6, 3.31) lost his last time out, giving up two runs over five innings against the Yankees.

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