Houston’s getting healthy, tries to increase lead on A’s
HOUSTON — For two months, the Astros have endured a debilitating rash of injuries, but on Monday, they caught a glimpse of the light at the end of their tunnel of short-handed rosters.
Not only did the Astros simultaneously feature outfielder George Springer, third baseman Alex Bregman, second baseman Jose Altuve and shortstop Carlos Correa atop their batting order for the first time since June 25, they announced that a trio of disabled contributors are slated for reinstatement when the active roster expands beyond 25 players this Saturday.
Catcher Brian McCann (right knee surgery), center fielder Jake Marisnick (left groin strain) and right-handed reliever Chris Devenski (left hamstring tightness) are all scheduled to return to the roster this weekend, leaving right-hander Lance McCullers (right forearm strain) alone on the 10-day disabled list. McCullers is set to return later in September, most likely in a relief role.
The Astros (81-50) have overcome their numerous maladies, maintaining their lead in the American League West despite their depleted roster and the extended excellence of the Oakland Athletics, who pulled even with the Astros atop the division twice last week.
But Houston improved to 6-0 with Altuve back in the fold with their 11-4 victory over the Athletics on Monday, a victory that extended their lead in the AL West to 2 1/2 games over Oakland heading into Tuesday’s meeting.
Springer, Bregman, Altuve and Correa were a combined 8-for-17 with three walks, six runs and six RBIs. Bregman went 4-for-5 with four RBIs and matched his single-game high for hits.
“When we’re going well we have this extended lineup, this long lineup where it doesn’t matter where we are,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “We’re a threat; we showed that again.”
Said Bregman: “When we’re healthy we’re the best team in baseball, and we’re getting healthy. So, it’s a good start.”
Right-hander Charlie Morton (13-3, 3.05 ERA) will start for the Astros on Tuesday. Morton is 1-1 with a 3.80 ERA over four career starts against the Athletics and has not recorded a decision while posting a 2.89 ERA over two starts this season.
He allowed a season-high-tying six runs in his previous start while working five innings in a 10-7 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday.
Right-hander Edwin Jackson (4-3, 2.97 ERA) gets the starting nod for Oakland. He is 2-2 with a 4.11 ERA over nine career appearances (eight starts) against the Astros, including a start on Aug. 17 at Oakland Coliseum where he allowed two runs on five hits and two walks with two strikeouts over five innings in a 4-3 victory. Jackson did not factor into the decision in that victory.
The Athletics (79-53) on Monday recalled right-hander Daniel Mengden from Triple-A Nashville, and Mengden allowed four hits and two walks while working four scoreless innings of relief against the Astros. With ace left-hander Sean Manaea recently placed on the 10-day disabled list with a shoulder impingement, Mengden could assume his place in the rotation.
Mengden, a fourth-round selection by Houston in 2014, is 6-6 with a 4.47 ERA over 16 starts this season.