The Houston Astros’ latest skid is in the past, and also for the moment are their struggles against the Tampa Bay Rays.
After evening this four-game set, the Astros try to build on a much-needed victory Saturday at Tropicana Field.
Houston (33-42) was shut out in its previous two games at Tampa Bay and dropped four in a row overall before George Springer’s two-run homer and eight strong innings from Jarred Cosart highlighted a 3-1 victory Friday. Jose Altuve added three hits for the Astros, who won for the fourth time in the last 17 meetings with the Rays (29-46).
Springer’s 13th home run was his first in nine games. Despite the blast, the rookie right fielder is 4 for 26 with 13 strikeouts in his last seven games and 2 for 19 with 12 strikeouts versus Tampa Bay.
Altuve, meanwhile, leads the majors with 101 hits and is 11 for 18 in the last four games since a hand injury limited him to one at-bat while Houston dropped two of three to the Rays last weekend.
"Having (Springer and Altuve) hit back to back is something that we talk about as a staff just how dynamic it is," manager Bo Porter told the Astros’ official website. "It really puts a lot of pressure on the opposing pitcher."
With originally scheduled starter and Palm Beach native Brad Peacock not quite recovered from a bout with food poisoning, the Astros called up Jake Buchanan from Triple-A Oklahoma City to make his major league debut Saturday. The right-hander was 6-4 with a 3.54 ERA in 14 games — 13 starts — for Oklahoma City this season.
"He’s been throwing the ball well down there," Porter said. "It’s one of those things we feel this is going to be one start, and we want to give this guy an opportunity to see what it is he’s able to do here at the major league level."
Making his first appearance against the Astros, Jake Odorizzi (2-7, 4.73 ERA) is 0-4 with a 4.55 ERA in his last six starts but has yielded three runs on two homers in 12 2/3 innings of the last two. He gave up a two-run shot and two other hits in 5 1/3 innings of a 5-4 win over Baltimore on Monday.
Yunel Escobar drove in the lone run Friday for Tampa Bay, which again struggled to produce offensively after scoring five runs in three of its previous four contests. The Rays’ 271 runs are the fewest in the AL.
"The guys are working," manager Joe Maddon said. "The effort is there. The performance is not. We’ve got keep pushing until it comes back to us."
Owner of the majors’ worst record, Tampa Bay is 4-9 at home this month after winning its final four of May at Tropicana Field.
"It stinks," said losing pitcher David Price, who yielded the home run and struck out 12 in eight innings.
"We want to win out there. Our team wants to win. We’re not doing that right now. So, it’s frustrating."
Tampa Bay star Evan Longoria hit .300 with two homers and seven RBI in his previous five games versus Houston before going 0 for 4 on Friday.