HOUSTON — Armed with the best record in the American League, the Houston Astros were unable to make a noteworthy addition to their roster at the non-waiver trade deadline on Monday.
In desperate need for bullpen reinforcements, the Astros (69-36) landed left-hander Francisco Liriano from the Toronto Blue Jays. However, it was the pitchers Houston didn’t get — Zach Britton, Justin Wilson and Yu Darvish — that left the air inside of Minute Maid Park ripe with frustration.
“I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was disappointed in not getting some of the moves done that we were working on,” Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said before Houston beat the Tampa Bay Rays 14-7 in the series opener Monday night. “We had some we that were close to and almost over the finish line, and at times I would have put them at 90 percent plus that we were going to get them done. But there’s a lot of dynamics that happen with these deals, and for reasons I can’t really talk about, they didn’t happen.
“But I do believe that this team has what it takes to win in the postseason with the players we have. Doesn’t mean we didn’t try hard to improve those chances even just a little bit. Each little bit that you can improve your chances of winning in the postseason helps, and we tried. Early in the trading season, the cost was extremely high on all players, and they did come down a little bit in certain areas to the point where we thought we had some deals done, and they were deals that we were excited about getting over the finish line. They didn’t happen, so we move on.”
Right-hander Mike Fiers (7-5, 3.71 ERA) will get the start for the Astros on Tuesday. He is 1-0 with a 3.93 ERA over three career starts against the Rays. Those numbers include a no-decision in Houston’s 6-3 road win on April 21, when he allowed three runs on seven hits and one walk with five strikeouts over five innings.
Rays right-hander Chris Archer (7-6, 3.80 ERA) will look to continue his success against the Astros on Tuesday.
Archer is 4-2 with a 1.68 ERA over seven career starts against Houston, totals that include two of his three career shutouts. In four career starts at Minute Maid Park, Archer is 2-1 with a 2.16 ERA with a one-hit shutout on Aug. 20, 2015, that featured the first double-digit strikeout performance with less than 100 pitches by an American League pitcher since David Cone twirled a perfect game for the New York Yankees on July 18, 1999.
Like the Astros, the Rays (54-53) made a minor move at the trade deadline, shipping infielder Tim Beckham to the Baltimore Orioles for minor league right-hander Tobias Myers. Beckham, the top overall selection in the 2008 draft, was belatedly enjoying a career season with the Rays, who in turn opted to hand over everyday duties at second base to Brad Miller.
“We’ve got to get Brad Miller going,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “We wanted to give him a little bit of a clearer path to get going. He’s going to be out there. We all saw what he was capable of, we saw what he did last year, and we’re banking on that for these next two months.
“There were three-, four-week stretches that he carried us offensively. I don’t think we’re looking for him to do that, but if he gets hot, it adds such a different dimension to the lineup, a deeper dimension, and it challenges those opposing pitchers quite a bit.”