Maybe, just maybe, the Astros can regain their mojo with a series win in Tampa.
Even without the services of Carlos Correa for a second game in a row, the Astros were able to even the series with the Tampa Bay Rays with a dramatic 4-3 victory yesterday. After being held to just one run over the first six innings by Chris Archer, the Astros offense was able to strike for three runs over the remaining three frames to claim the victory.
Despite the win, the Astros offense continues in its struggle to score more than three to four runs per game as of late. However, Mike Fiers provided the team with an excellent outing by holding the Rays to just two runs and five hits over seven strong innings. This now lowers Fiers’ ERA from a 5.00 to 4.76. So this is encouraging news for the Astros as the team prepares for the series finale against the Rays and the upcoming road series against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Game 3: LHP Dallas Keuchel (3-8, 5.44 ERA) vs. LHP Matt Moore (2-4, 5.56 ERA)
The Astros will look to the reigning AL Cy Young, Dallas Keuchel, to lead the way as the team aims for a rare road series win. But Keuchel has struggled mightily in 2016, which has been well documented at this point. However, the bearded left-hander has pitched reasonably well in each of his last three starts so there is reason for hope as he takes on the Rays. Another reason for optimism: Keuchel’s ERA may be at 5.44 currently but his FIP is hovering around the 4.00 mark. And his xFIP is even better at 3.54.
Jose Altuve and company will also face a struggling left-hander in Matt Moore. The Rays starting pitcher for today has experienced his fair share of troubles the past two years with an injury plagued 2015 campaign and an ineffective 2016. However, Moore is still one of the Rays more talented pitchers, and starting against a struggling Astros lineup may be just what the doctor ordered.
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After all, the offense on Saturday was mainly provided by a solo home from Luis Valbuena and Carlos Gomez with timely hits from Altuve. But if the offense can get going then that should allow Keuchel the opportunity to regain his mojo without worrying about being perfect.
**Statistics provided by Fangraphs**