ASTROS REPORT

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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Zack Greinke earned his 10th win of the season in Sunday's finale agains the Rangers. Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

With the first two wins of the series under their belt, the Astros entered Sunday looking to take care of business before heading on the road. Despite the Rangers taking the first lead of the day, the Astros responded on offense and defense to erase the deficit to get the victory.

Final Score: Astros 3, Rangers 1

Astros' Record: 61-39, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Zack Greinke (10-3)

Losing Pitcher: Dennis Santana (0-1)

Greinke, with some help, notches a quality start

Zack Greinke was doing well in the early goings of Sunday's finale. Despite allowing back-to-back singles to start the game, he stranded both runners to finish the top of the first. He followed that by erasing two more runners in the second, starting a stretch of eight straight batters which he would retire to make it through one out in the top of the fifth without allowing a run.

Texas finally added a blemish to his day at that point, getting a solo homer to grab their first lead in weeks. Greinke rebounded from it, sitting down the next two batters to finish the frame, then posted a 1-2-3 sixth. He returned for the top of the seventh, but would end his day with a struggle, loading the bases with no outs on a single, hit batter, and walk. That prompted Dusty Baker to bring in Cristian Javier, who saved Greinke's stat line by getting a strikeout and double play to keep the Rangers from scoring. Greinke's line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, 86 P.

Houston grabs the lead

Houston's starter would leave in line for the win, thanks to the work of Cristian Javier, but also some timely offense in the two innings prior. With not much going for them in the first four innings, the Astros tried to take advantage of Chas McCormick being on base in the bottom of the fifth, sending him for a potential hit and run with Abraham Toro swinging.

That turned into two runs, with McCormick able to slow his run as Toro would launch a two-run go-ahead homer to erase the Rangers lead quickly. They extended the lead to two runs in the next inning, with Yordan Alvarez working a walk and then later scoring on an RBI single by Kyle Tucker, making it 3-1.

Astros finish the sweep

After cleaning up the inherited mess in the top of the seventh, Javier remained on the mound in the top of the eighth and made it through a 1-2-3 inning to give him six outs against five batters. With it still a two-run game in the top of the ninth, Ryan Pressly entered for the save opportunity. He notched it, sitting down the Rangers 1-2-3 to finish the sweep, handing Texas their twelfth straight loss.

Up Next: The Astros will head out west for an eight-game road trip starting with a three-game set with the Mariners kicking off at 9:10 PM Central on Monday. In the opener, Luis Garcia (7-5, 2.86 ERA) for Houston is slated to go opposite Darren McCaughan (0-0, 1.80 ERA), who will make his second career appearance and first start for Seattle.

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