Houston right-hander Jose Urquidy delivered a quality start on Monday that not only resulted in his first win of the season but also completed a strong run for the Astros’ scuffling starting rotation.
Houston had labored to get innings from their starters through the opening weeks of this season, but five games into this homestand the tide might finally be turning for the Astros. They’ll hope that it continues with Cristian Javier’s start in Tuesday’s matchup with the Seattle Mariners.
The Astros completed perhaps their best turn through their rotation after Urquidy allowed just two runs on five hits with two strikeouts over six solid innings in a 5-2 victory over Seattle.
Including what amounted to an emergency start from left-hander Kent Emanuel last Saturday, Javier, Zack Greinke, Lance McCullers, Emanuel and Urquidy combined to allow just eight earned runs on 26 hits and three walks with 27 strikeouts in 32 2/3 innings for a 2.20 ERA.
“This is what we had envisioned,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “That’s how you get on a good streak. It looks like our pitching is coming into shape as we planned. It starts with starting pitching which takes pressure off your bullpen.”
Javier (2-0, 1.32 ERA) will start for Houston Tuesday. He worked five shutout innings in his previous outing, his first since his recall from the alternate training site, allowing three hits and one walk with a career-high nine strikeouts against the Los Angeles Angels on April 22. In that appearance, Javier became the first Houston pitcher since Jim Deshaies (Sept. 23, 1986) to record his first eight outs in a game via the strikeout.
Javier is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA over two career appearances (one start) against the Mariners.
Left-hander Marco Gonzales (1-2, 6.04 ERA) will start for the Mariners on Tuesday. Gonzales pitched effectively in his previous outing despite picking up the loss, allowing one run on two hits and one walk with six strikeouts over a season-high seven innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 20. Gonzales is 1-5 with a 5.83 ERA over nine career appearances (eight starts) against the Astros, including a 1-1 record and 2.19 ERA over two starts last season.
Mariners center fielder Kyle Lewis slugged his first home run of the season in the third inning, a 429-foot blast to straightaway center field off Urquidy. The series opener in Houston marked just the fifth game for Lewis, the unanimous 2020 American League Rookie of the Year, after he made his debut on April 20 following a stint on the injured list with a right knee bone bruise.
Lewis recorded seven extra-base hits and six walks over 14 games during spring training, leading to expectations for an exceptional sophomore campaign. The injury was an early obstacle, but Lewis is showing signs of reclaiming the form that yielded so much promise.
“I think his timing has been pretty good,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said of Lewis. “He’s just starting to get in the flow of playing and seeing pitches consistently. He’ll probably play (Tuesday), get a day off and keep stretching his legs out. He looks pretty good.”
–Field Level Media