HOUSTON – The Astros weren’t without three key relievers on the day the starting pitcher threw just four innings. The lineup only managed one extra base hit and the starter gave up a pair of homers. That sounds like a recipe for disaster, but it was enough to beat the White Sox, 6-4, Saturday afternoon at Minute Maid Park.
So, how do they do it? Let’s take a look at three key takeaways from the Astros’ second straight win after they dropped their season opener Thursday:
Astros pitcher Jose Urquidi needed 82 pitches to pitch four innings, giving up three runs and seven hits. This included a solo homer by Yoán Moncada in the second and a two-run homer by Seby Zavala in the fourth that put the White Sox ahead, 3–2. Heavyweights Ronell Blanco (2 runs), Ren Stanek (1 2/3), and Hector Neres (1 1/3) pitched the last five innings, allowing one run.
“Orkidi threw the ball well, other than the two home runs—one of which went in the first row of Crawford bins,” said head coach Dusty Baker. “We knew we had to keep an eye on him especially after he had 30 plus points [third] half, which is equivalent to two rounds. He kept us in the ball game and Blanco could have given us another run, but at the time we thought he had done enough.”
The Astros weren’t without high-powered announcers Rafael Montero and Brian Abreu, both of whom he had thrown in the previous two games, and near All-Star Ryan Pressley, who was “under the weather,” according to Baker. Stanek, who didn’t play in the first two games, matched his 2022 season-high by scoring five times.
“It’s early in the year, and as a guy in these situations, that might not be what you do for the majority of the season. But you kind of have to do those things when you have a limited amount of presentations at the beginning of the year and you’re trying to work through some things and not squash. Anyone.” “I was excited to get in there and back in again.”
Baker said Presley was unavailable on Friday or Saturday.
“I hope it will be better tomorrow,” Becker said.
World Series quarterback Chas McCormick, whose game-saving save in Game 5 at Philadelphia helped the Astros win the championship last fall, made his first start of the season and went 1-for-2 with two walks and an RBI. Jake Myers started the first two games at center, going 0-6 with four hits and a walk.
“I felt great,” McCormick said. “I was excited to play today. We got the win today and it was great. I felt really good today at the plate, laying off some dunks inside and putting some good swings on balls and getting a walk and an RBI. It felt good to play.”
Playtime between McCormick and Myers’ characters will be a story as the season begins. McCormick will start again in the series finale on Sunday and is looking to build on the momentum.
“I told [McCormick] Before we started game one, I said, “You’ll be there in game three and game four and we’ll start from there,” Baker said. “I loved the fastball matches with Meyers. It didn’t work out, but all you can do is try to match up as best you can.”
Everyone expected players Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker to benefit from restrictions on defensive transitions this year, and both appeared to be affected by it on Saturday. Of the Astros’ 11 hits, 10 were singles, including a few through defensive holes.
“A couple of hits, it definitely helped,” Tucker said. “We’ll see how the rest of the series plays out and the rest of the season. Maybe I had a hit today and maybe there will be another one or two.”
Alvarez’s first single off Lucas Giolito was a soft 82.1 mph liner off the bat that ran between first and second and may have been fielded in shallow right field last year. Two batters later, Tucker’s RBI single to right was a 79.9 mph drum through the same spot that Jeremy Peña scored from second base.
“At first I thought I was out and then I looked and said, ‘Oh, sweet,’” Tucker said. “It was nice to get through that.”
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