Tampa Bay Rays (43-39) vs Houston Astros (30-52)
Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas
The Houston Astros are hoping to turn things around after being swept in a three game set by the L.A. Angels. They are 1-4 on their current homestand, and ended the month of June two games below .500 at 12-14. They now have a .5 game lead over the Miami Marlins for the worst record in baseball.
The Tampa Bay Rays have won their last two series, taking two of three from the AL Central leading Detroit Tigers, and two more from the resurgent Toronto Blue Jays. Despite being four games over .500, they are currently in fourth place in the tough AL East.
After a string of three straight bad starts (0-3, 19 ER in 12.1 innings), Matt Moore appears to have gotten back on track. Facing two tough teams in the Yankees and Blue Jays, Moore went 2-0, allowing four earned runs and 12.1 innings. On Tuesday, the young lefty struck out eleven Blue Jays.
Dallas Keuchel has been very reliable lately. He has a current string of five straight quality starts. With the Astros having a couple of off days during the last week, Bo Porter opted to skip Keuchel’s spot in the rotation and instead used him in relief. While he did have the strikeout pitch working out of the pen on Tuesday (collecting six in 2.2 innings), he wasn’t able to keep the Cardinals off the board, allowing two runs on three hits in 2.2 innings.
David Price will be making his first start since May 15th, when he left the game versus the Red Sox with a strained left tricep muscle. He started nine games prior to his injury with mixed results. Right-handed hitters are hitting .305 with an .847 OPS versus the 2012 Cy Young winner.
June was a very strong month for Astros’ veteran Erik Bedard. He finished the month 3-1 with a 3.19 ERA. Four of Bedard’s five starts were of the “quality” variety, and he allowed one run or less in three of his outings. On Wednesday, “The Great Bedardini”, as nicknamed by Astros County, threw six innings, allowing seven hits and three runs while striking out six Cardinals.
Roberto Hernandez, or “The Pitcher Formerly Known as Fausto Carmona”, followed an average May with a poor June. He had his strongest start of the month on Wednesday, going eight innings while allowing three runs and striking out five in a losing effort versus the Blue Jays.
Despite going 1-3 for June, Bud Norris had his strongest month of the season. He finished the month with a 2.77 ERA in six starts. In his last start, Bud dominated the Angels for the fourth time this season; throwing seven innings and not allowing an earned run. At this rate, it would surprise me to see Bud Norris end the month of July in an Astros’ uniform.
Chris Archer pitched well enough during David Price’s absence to earn a spot in the Rays’ rotation. The 22-year old hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in a start since his debut on June 1st. Archer got a no-decision in his last outing, throwing five innings and allowing three runs to the Tigers.
After dominating opponents for more than a month, Jordan Lyles has been knocked back to earth by his last two starts. Versus the Cubs and Angels, Lyles threw a total of nine innings and allowed nine runs while striking out just four.