As the debilitating injuries mounted within their pitching staff, the Houston Astros appeared resigned to having to rely solely on their stout lineup to keep them competitive.
Lately, however, the Astros’ patchwork rotation has exceeded expectations. In the opener of a four-game home-and-home interleague set with the Colorado Rockies on Monday, rookie right-hander Brandon Bielak kept the line moving, allowing just one run and one hit in six innings of a 2-1 victory in Houston.
Houston starters have posted a 1.68 ERA over the past 11 games, working at least five innings in 10 of those starts while allowing one earned run or none eight times. That collective performance has enabled what was a beleaguered bullpen to settle in, and the results have been positive.
“I’m knocking on wood that we can keep getting that good starting pitching,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said.
With veteran closer Ryan Pressly having worked in consecutive games over the weekend against the Seattle Mariners, Baker turned to rookie left-hander Blake Taylor to close out the win against Colorado.
Taylor turned 25 on Monday and relied on what he called “birthday magic” to survive the heart of the Rockies’ order. After Charlie Blackmon led off the inning with a single, Taylor retired Nolan Arenado, Daniel Murphy and Raimel Tapia to end the game.
“You’ve got to face Blackmon, Arenado and Murphy,” Baker said. “That’s not how you would have drawn up a young man’s first save, facing a murderer’s row like that.”
Right-hander Zack Greinke (1-0, 2.53 ERA) gets the starting nod for the Astros on Tuesday. He notched his first victory this season in his previous start, allowing one run on seven hits and one walk with seven strikeouts over 6 1/3 innings in a 5-1 win over the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday.
That outing marked the second consecutive quality start for Greinke, who went 2-1 with a 3.09 ERA over five starts against the Rockies in 2019. He is 14-7 with a 3.66 ERA over 35 career appearances (34 starts) against Colorado, his highest win total against any opponent.
Right-hander Antonio Senzatela (3-0, 3.91 ERA) will pitch for the Rockies on Tuesday in what will be his fifth start of the season and first-everappearance against the Astros.
Senzatela did not factor in the decision in his last outing, a 13-7 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks in which he allowed a season-high five runs on nine hits with four strikeouts over six innings. He is 2-0 with a 3.27 ERA in two interleague starts this season and 5-4 with a 5.46 ERA over 11 career interleague starts.
The Rockies have dropped six of eight games following a rousing start to the season, and their schedule doesn’t get any easier with three more games against the Astros, including two at Coors Field on Wednesday and Thursday.
Then come seven more games on the road trip: three games against the National League West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers and four vs. the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Dodgers enter Tuesday leading the NL in run differential at plus-62. Arizona defeated the Oakland A’s on Monday after sweeping the San Diego Padres over the weekend. The Diamondbacks have won five straight overall.
“This part of the schedule, we’re playing good teams,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “The Astros are a very good team, the Dodgers are a good team, the Diamondbacks have now gained some momentum lately, they’re starting to swing the bats. So this will be a good test for us, for sure.”
–Field Level Media