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Astros go for sweep of short series with struggling Diamondbacks

Sportsnaut
Apr 12, 2022; Phoenix, Ariz., U.S.;  Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve (27) slides in safely at third after tagging up while Arizona Diamondbacks third baseman Sergio Alcantara (43) fields the throw during the first inning at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Michael Chow-Arizona RepublicMlb Astros At Dbacks Game
Credit: Michael Chow / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Houston Astros will go for the series sweep and their third straight win when they face the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday in the finale of a two-game interleague set in Phoenix.

The Astros will send left-hander Framber Valdez (1-0, 0.00 ERA) to the mound for the second time this season after he produced six strikeouts in 6 2/3 shutout innings on the road against the Los Angeles Angels in an Opening Day win.

Arizona will counter with right-hander Merrill Kelly (0-0, 0.00 ERA), who struck out seven in four innings against San Diego last Friday in a game the Diamondbacks lost 3-0.

Houston has had an impressive start to its longest trip of the season, which features nine games in 11 days in Anaheim, Phoenix and, beginning Friday, Seattle. The Astros have captured four of their first five games, including a 2-1 win Tuesday behind Michael Brantley’s game-winning RBI single in the top of the ninth. Jose Siri hit a 456-foot home run in the fifth inning.

Brantley’s hit, his third of the game, came off Arizona reliever Mark Melancon after a double by Siri and a walk to Jose Altuve, all with two out. Both Houston outfielders also made key catches early in the game.

“We’re winning as a team,” Brantley said afterward. “We’ve got a great group of guys in the locker room that are going to work hard every day. We push each other hard — one game at a time, one day at a time. We are doing well.”

Houston closer Ryan Pressly worked out of a jam in the ninth for his third save. Hector Neris (1-0), the fifth Houston pitcher, earned the win with a perfect eighth inning that included two strikeouts.

Houston was without designated hitter Yordan Alvarez for the series opener against the Diamondbacks on Tuesday because he was feeling “under the weather,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. Alvarez was unavailable for the game, as he was not at Chase Field. His availability for Wednesday’s contest is still to be determined.

The Diamondbacks have dropped four of their first five games and have just 12 runs for the season. Arizona had only four hits Tuesday and got its lone run on a Christian Walker home run in the sixth.

Melancon (0-1) was the sixth Arizona pitcher. Arizona started veteran left-hander Madison Bumgarner a day ahead of schedule when Zac Gallen was scratched from his first start of the year because of a cut on his pitching thumb. Gallen won’t pitch until the series with the New York Mets this weekend.

“It was just a freak household accident where he just pinched his finger, his thumb in an electrical box,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said Tuesday of Gallen. “Think it was spring-loaded, got him, just pinched the portion of his pad and his thumb and he’s healing day by day. He could pitch right now, but we just want to be extra sure and make sure that skin is healed up.”

–Field Level Media