Stellar pitching leads Astros to 3 consecutive series wins

The Astros (15-13) finished the week with a 5-2 record. Composite image by Jack Brame.

After starting the season with a 7-10 record and getting swept by the Colorado Rockies, the Astros are starting to find their winning ways again.

The Astros started a four game series with the Mariners on Monday, April 26th which saw the return of Jose Altuve after testing positive for COVID-19.

During the stretch that Altuve was out, Houston manager Dusty Baker used a couple different options at the leadoff spot that included Myles Straw, Kyle Tucker and Carlos Correa.

Once Altuve returned to the lineup, he was able to contribute immediately by hitting a single and stealing his first base of the season.

"I was really happy to be back and a little nervous my first at-bat," he said. "But all in all I feel pretty good and I'm happy that we won this game."

Altuve finished the game with three hits and two RBI as the Astros beat the Mariners in the first game of the series 5-2.

Pitcher Jose Urquidy picked up his first win of the season as well.

The second game of the series was a showcase game for Cristian Javier as he threw 7 scoreless innings and gave up only two hits to help the Astros secure a 2-0 victory.

Relief pitchers Brooks Raley and Ryan Pressly both pitched scoreless innings to secure the 2-hit shutout.

Pressly earned saves on back-to-back nights to increase his save total to 3 this season thus far.

The two runs were scored on a Yordan Alvarez sacrifice fly and a Kyle Tucker RBI single.

The final two games of the series saw the aforementioned Alvarez head again to the injured list due to health and safety protocols. The second time in a month in which he was placed on the IL for this reason.

This forced Michael Brantley to take over as the designated hitter and Chas McCormick to start in left field.

Wednesday's game saw Astros' pitcher Zack Greinke leave after four innings as he gave up four runs on four hits. (His shortest outing of the season.)

The Astros were down 3-5 in the bottom of the 8th when Kyle Tucker and Yuli Gurriel got back-to-back singles.

Mariners first basemen Evan White committed an error which scored Kyle Tucker.

Aledmys Diaz singled to score Gurriel and tie the game later in the inning.

Jason Castro walked with the bases loaded to give the Astros a 6-5 lead and Jose Altuve got an insurance run as he hit a sacrifice fly to increase the Astros lead 7-5.

As previously mentioned, Houston closer Ryan Pressly pitched on back-to-back days, so Ryne Stanek came in for his first save opportunity of the year.

He pitched a perfect 9th on 12 pitches to earn his first save of the year.

Thursday's afternoon game was one to be forgotten as the Mariners won the final game of the series 1-0.

Luis Garcia (0-3) gave up only one run, but received his third consecutive loss in three straight starts.

The Astros then headed to the East Coast for their third road trip of the season.

Friday saw the start of a three-game series in St. Petersburg, Florida to set up a 2020 ALCS rematch with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Lance McCullers started the series off with a bang as he pitched seven shutout innings and struck out a personal season-high nine batters.

This is the second consecutive game McCullers has pitched more than five innings, and this start was his longest outing of the young season.

The Astros received a lot of run support as both Carlos Correa and Michael Brantley got four hits each, and Alex Bregman hit a two-run homer to help secure Houston's 9-2 victory.

Dusty Baker earned his 1,906th managerial victory Friday night, thus moving him past Casey Stengel for 12th place on the all-time win list for managers.

Saturday's game saw more of the same from the Astros, shutdown pitching with timely hitting.

Houston got off to a 3-0 lead and never looked back.

After going 0-5 the previous night, Jose Altuve doubled on the first pitch of the game to set the tone for that inning.

Alex Bregman hit an RBI single which scored Altuve, and Gurriel drove in two runs on a single later in the inning, therefore giving the Astros their three runs of the game.

Pitcher Jose Urquidy pitched his best game of the season as he threw seven shutout innings to earn his second win of the year on his 26th birthday.

Brooks Raley and Ryan Pressly closed out the game.

Raley pitched a perfect 8th inning, and Pressly earned his 4th save of the season.

Sunday's final game of the series saw Cristian Javier attempt to earn his fourth win of the season.

He pitched four shutout innings before giving up a three-run homer to Austin Meadows in the 5th which tied the game.

Javier left the game with a no decision, as the Rays went on to score two more runs to earn a 5-4 win over the Astros to avoid getting swept.

Yordan Alvarez hit his third home run of the season along with a double this game to keep his batting average over .300 for the season.

Even though Houston lost Sunday, they have now won three consecutive series in a row over the Angels, Mariners and Rays.

The Astros (15-13) finished the week with a 5-2 record and currently sit in third place in their division behind the Mariners and the Oakland A's.

UP NEXT: The Astros start a three-game series in the Bronx against the New York Yankees to finish off their road trip.

Zack Greinke (2-1) will start the series opening game Tuesday night against Domingo German (2-2) at 6:05 p.m. The Astros are also scheduled to face Gerrit Cole for the first time since he left the team to join the Yankees via free agency on Thursday at 12:05 p.m.

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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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