Astros Blanked In Finale
Rays, Yankees Next In Road Test

Correa: Stars in all facets.
(c) Associated Press
For the second series in a row, the Astros failed to nail down a series sweep but still left their homestand with six wins out of eight and sit 2-1/2 games behind division-leading Oakland as the page turns to a new month.

For six innings, the Astros had as many hits Thursday as the Houston Texans had first-round draft choices but Carlos Correa broke up Yusei Kikuchi's no-hit bid in the seventh with a double. Alex Bregman added a single in the ninth. Luis Garcia (0-3) deserved a better fate than to take the 1-0 defeat. Garcia fanned six and allowed three hits over five frames but he gave up a solo homer to the .149-hitting Taylor Trammell for the game's only run. Bryan Abreu, Joe Smith and Brooks Raley combined for a one-hit relief effort but the bats fell quiet.

The Spacemen took the first three games of the series, 5-2, 2-0 and 7-5 and leave town with a 13-12 record. While Jose Urquidy was sharp in the opener, Cristian Javier was sharper in Tuesday's duel, blanking the Mariners on two hits over seven innings. Zack Greinke gave up four runs in four innings Wednesday, but Houston rallied with four runs in the eighth to take the series, 7-5.

Now the ballclub takes their first road trip to the East Coast of the season, opening a three-game set in St. Pete against the American League champion Rays Friday night. Tampa has had their own struggles in April (13-13). Lance McCullers (1-1) will pitch for the Astros against lefty Ryan Yarbrough (1-2) in a 6:10 pm Central contest. Urquidy (1-2) toes the rubber for the 3:10 p.m. Central Saturday matinee while Javier (3-0) will throw in the 12:10 p.m. Central finale on Sunday. The Rays have not announced a starter for their weekend games.

Pitchers enjoyed the home cooking during the homestand, posting a 2.45 ERA over the eight games (6-2) with Javier shrinking his ERA down to 0.87 on the season. The Astros were a streaky team for the month, winning six of their first seven before dropping nine of their next ten leading up to the homestand.

Houston reactivated Jose Altuve from the COVID protocol list but placed Typhoid Yordan Alvarez back on the list for a second time this month. Manager Dusty Baker said Thursday he thought Alvarez could be back sometime during the upcoming series.

Meanwhile, the Astros placed pitcher Jake Odorizzi on the 10-day Injured List with a sore right forearm as tests are done on it. As a corresponding move, Houston called up righthander Peter Solomon for the second time this month. Also, free agent signee Pedro Baez, projected to play a key role in the Houston bullpen, was transferred from the 10-day IL to the 60-day IL, which means he won't be available until June after suffering a setback in the rehab of his right shoulder.

Once the Rays' series ends, the Astros will take a day off then visit Yankee Stadium to challenge the Bronx Bombers and some likely very ill-tempered fans. It is probably better this series be played this early in the season while seating capacity is limited over virus restrictions.

- Bob Hulsey