The Houston Astros’ long-lost offense reappeared at an opportune time Thursday and moved the club within a win of securing a fifth postseason berth in six seasons.
The visiting Astros (29-28) bashed four home runs in their 12-4 victory over the Texas Rangers in Arlington, Texas, and reduced their magic number to clinch second place in the American League West to one. Second-place teams qualify for the postseason in this pandemic-shortened season.
Any combination of one Houston win or one loss by the Los Angeles Angels, who will face the NL West champion Los Angeles Dodgers this weekend, would net the Astros the eighth and final postseason slot in the AL.
Houston third baseman Alex Bregman finished a single shy of the cycle and homered. George Springer, Jose Altuve and Josh Reddick also hit homers in the Astros’ first double-digit scoring performance for the Astros in a month. Houston had scored more than three runs just four times over their previous 16 games and five series.
“I think that’s what we should be doing,” Bregman said. “We’re a very good offense. Now it’s time to repeat, repeat and repeat. Keep doing that.”
Right-hander Jose Urquidy (1-1, 2.78 ERA) is set to start for Houston in Friday’s second game of the four-game series. He has posted three consecutive quality starts, going 1-1 with a 2.37 ERA during that stretch with 10 strikeouts against five walks and a .490 OPS allowed over 19 innings.
Urquidy pitched effectively against Texas on Sept. 15, allowing one run on three hits with seven strikeouts and no walks over seven innings in a 4-1 victory in Houston. He is 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA in two career starts against the Rangers with 16 strikeouts and no walks over 14 innings.
Rookie right-hander Kyle Cody (1-1, 1.53 ERA) will oppose Urquidy for the second time.
It will mark the fifth start and eighth appearance of the season for Cody, who limited the Astros to one run on four hits and two walks with one strikeout over three innings on Sept. 15. Cody is 1-1 with a 2.03 ERA over four starts this month, recording 11 strikeouts against seven walks while limiting opposing batters to a .648 OPS over 13 1/3 innings.
Mired in last place in the AL West, the Rangers (19-38) are left playing the role of spoiler over the remaining three games of the series. Aside from clinching a playoff berth, the Astros need another victory to lock up the Silver Boot Series.
“Obviously, it’s let’s keep these guys from getting to the playoffs,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “It’s as simple as that. It’s obviously a good test for us. I think we’ve actually played decent against these guys all year; I know we’ve pitched well against them at times. It’s a good way to end it.
“We’ve played well at home. Hopefully, we can get some positive things moving … and win the series and end the 2020 season on a positive note. That’s the biggest thing,” Woodward said.
–Field Level Media