Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker was quick to acknowledge the rarity of his team’s victory on Thursday, a triumph in which an early two-run home run proved sufficient in defeating the Texas Rangers.
Houston (25-25) claimed a series victory over the Rangers with a 2-1 win in the rubber match of a three-game series. The Astros extended their lead over the Seattle Mariners to three games in the chase for second place in the American League West and the automatic postseason berth that comes with it. They did so despite scoring just six runs in the three-game series, with a two-run, second-inning blast from Kyle Tucker muting the stench of a shutout loss Wednesday.
Next up for the Astros is a three-game interleague series against the struggling Arizona Diamondbacks that starts Friday at Minute Maid Park. Houston will need its offense to perk up to keep Seattle at bay, with Houston and the Mariners set to square off early next week in a crucial series in Seattle.
“If you win, you don’t have any concerns,” Baker said. “You know these guys can hit. … It doesn’t matter what the score is, you’ve got to win those close games too. Right now, we’re trying to win every game we can win. We’ve gotten back to .500 and are trying to put some distance on that.
“You always want some breathing room but you’ve got to take care of your own business.”
Right-hander Zack Greinke (3-2, 3.77 ERA) is the scheduled starter for Houston against the Diamondbacks. Greinke will make his 21st start with Houston, his 11th this season and first against the Diamondbacks since he arrived in Houston from Arizona via trade July 31, 2019.
Greinke is 7-3 with a 3.29 ERA over 14 career starts against Arizona, with whom he signed as a free agent on Dec. 8, 2015. He has allowed at least three earned runs in each of his previous five starts, going 2-2 with a 5.79 ERA. He has suffered the defeat in his last two appearances.
Right-hander Zac Gallen (1-2, 3.15) will start the series opener for Arizona. Gallen set a major league record this season by beginning a career with 23 starts allowing three earned runs or fewer. Gallen had his lone career start against the Astros included in that run, allowing two runs on six hits and one walk with six strikeouts over six innings in a 5-4 victory on Aug. 6.
Gallen had his streak snapped by the San Francisco Giants on Sept. 7, surrendering four runs on five hits and two walks with six strikeouts over five innings in a 4-2 loss. Gallen is 0-2 with a 5.82 ERA in three starts this month. Arizona has lost all three games.
The Diamondbacks (19-32) dropped a chance to complete a series sweep of the Angels with a 7-3 loss in Anaheim on Thursday. Arizona did manage its first series victory after seven consecutive series losses but remains mired in last place in the NL West and is playing out the string of a disappointing campaign.
“Look, I think we’re all going to take something from this season, whether it’s 60 games or 162 games,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. “It’s what we do. It’s what I’m going to do. I’ve got to do better in certain areas, and I’m certainly going to evaluate exactly what those are. I don’t have those answers right now.”
–Field Level Media