Here’s what you need to know about the Houston Astros series against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
It wasn’t pretty, but the Houston Astros managed to eke out a series win against the hapless Texas Rangers. In doing so, they were able to extend their lead over the Seattle Mariners to three games, giving them a little more cushion in their bid to secure a spot in the playoffs. Now they welcome the Arizona Diamondbacks to town.
This could very well be the last time the Astros play at Minute Maid Park this year. It’s the last scheduled home series for them, though it’s possible their upcoming series at Seattle will be moved due to the wildfires. But we do know the Astros will not be playing at home in the postseason, as their games will all be in California, and the World Series is in Arlington.
The Astros come into this series at 25-25 on the season with a plus-eight run differential, while the D’backs are 19-32 with a minus-49 run differential. Both teams are 4-6 in their last 10 games, and this will be the second time these teams have seen each other this year. Arizona took two of three back in early August.
Tonight’s series opener begins at 7:10 p.m. CT, while Saturday’s game begins at 6:10. Sunday’s finale will be an afternoon game at 1:10. All three games will be broadcast locally on ATT SportsNet SW.
Zack Greinke will take the bump against his former team tonight and will be opposed by Zac Gallen. Greinke is 3-2 with a 3.77 ERA and is looking to bounce back after allowing nine runs in his past 11 innings. In 10 starts this season, Gallen is 1-2 with a 3.15 ERA but is coming off back-to-back subpar outings as well.
Cristian Javier will make his return to the rotation on Saturday and will face Luke Weaver. Javier is 4-2 with a 3.22 ERA this season and made a one-off relief appearance on Sunday, striking out five Dodgers in two scoreless innings. Weaver is 1-7 with a 6.70 ERA this year, which means he’ll probably throw a two-hit shutout against this Houston lineup.
Sunday’s finale will see the red-hot Jose Urquidy take the mound against the ice-cold Madison Bumgarner. Urquidy last pitched on Tuesday and allowed one run in seven innings against the Rangers, and he has a 2.70 ERA in three starts. Bumgarner is 0-4 with an 8.53 ERA in seven starts this season and allowed eight earned runs on 13 hits in his last start.
Players to Watch
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The D’backs traded Starling Marte, and Ketel Marte is on the Injured List, so the one to watch here is Kole Calhoun. He always seems to hit like Mickey Mantle against the Astros, and he leads his team in homers and OPS and is tied for the lead in RBIs. Just pitch around him the whole series and Houston should be fine.
For the Astros, pretty much every hitter is terrible right now, but I will say keep an eye on Alex Bregman. He actually reached base safely in all three games of the Rangers series, one of only three Astros to do that. If he starts to heat up, he has the ability to carry this team offensively — and someone has to.
The D’backs are a last-place team, but the Astros had difficulty in squeezing out a series win against the last-place Rangers. Asking for a sweep is probably too ambitious right now, so the expectation would be to take two of three here.
That doesn’t mean it will be easy, and I have a sneaking suspicion the Astros will lose a game in this series that they should have won. I don’t know what it will take for them to snap out of their current funk, but hopefully the D’backs will do it for them.