Astros and Padres square off in middle game Tuesday night
Apr 27, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres second baseman Yangervis Solarte (center) gets the throw from the plate as Houston Astros right fielder George Springer (4) steals second at Petco Park.
Jose Altuve and Jake Marisnick may be the Houston Astros’ top hitters, but it may be time to add Colby Rasmus to that list.
Rasmus looks to continue his hot hitting and help the Astros to a ninth win in 10 games Tuesday night against the San Diego Padres.
Houston (12-7) is unexpectedly atop the AL West, but Altuve’s success at the plate isn’t a surprise since he led the majors with a career-best .341 average last year.
The All-Star second baseman is batting .325 in 2015, going 11 for 29 (.379) with eight RBIs during a six-game hitting streak.
While Altuve is expected to produce in the leadoff spot, Marisnick is providing the Astros with some offense at the bottom of the order. The center fielder is hitting .362, 118 points above his career average.
Rasmus has heated up after a slow start, going 10 for 29 (.345) with two homers, two doubles and five RBIs in seven games. The left fielder has two hits in each of the last three games, connecting for a two-run homer and an RBI single in Monday’s 9-4 series-opening win.
"Rasmus had the separation home run, and that’s sort of who we are," manager A.J. Hinch said. "We lay in the weeds and then we do it. It’s an interesting offense."
Roberto Hernandez (0-2, 3.57) will try to pitch the Astros to their fifth straight win following his best outing of the season. The right-hander allowed three runs over the first four innings before completing seven in a 3-2 loss at Seattle on Wednesday.
"In the first few innings the ball was kind of flat, but I was able to keep the ball down and started moving more and got comfortable," Hernandez said through an interpreter.
Hernandez is 1-2 with a 4.50 ERA in three career starts against the Padres, losing both last season while surrendering nine runs in eight innings.
He’ll be facing a San Diego (11-10) team that’s batting .219 and averaging 3.3 runs while dropping five of six games after winning nine of the previous 11 behind a .304 average and 6.0 runs.
Yonder Alonso is a major culprit, going 1 for 14 in four games after hitting .400 through the first 16.
Tyson Ross (1-1, 3.97) starts for the Padres seeking better command. The right-hander has walked nine in his last two starts and needed 106 pitches to complete five innings in a 2-1 loss at Colorado on Thursday. He loaded the bases and walked in a run in the opening inning before settling down and allowing one run over the next four innings.
"He threw some pitches that I thought from the side looked real close," manager Bud Black said. "Some real borderline pitches that didn’t go his way. But at the end of the day he gave us a chance to win, even though he wasn’t at the top of his game."
A change of venue could be just what Ross needs in his first meeting with Houston. He’s 6-0 with a 1.55 ERA and 51 strikeouts in 46 1-3 innings over his last seven home starts, and they’ve all ended in Padres victories.
Astros shortstop Jed Lowrie homered Monday before leaving in the eighth inning after injuring his right thumb on a slide. He will return to Houston on Tuesday and have an MRI.