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Astros pitching on point for series opener with Tigers

Sportsnaut
Apr 29, 2022; Toronto, Ontario, CAN;  Houston Astros starting pitcher Jose Urquidy (65) delivers a pitch against the Toronto Blue Jays in the first inning at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Astros will look to expand on their season-high three-game winning streak when they host the Detroit Tigers on Thursday in the first of a four-game series.

The Astros hope to avoid the results of last season when Detroit — managed by former Houston manager A.J. Hinch — swept a series in the Bayou City early in the 2021 campaign.

Houston heads to the extended weekend series against the Tigers after sweeping Seattle at home. The Astros won 7-2 on Wednesday behind sterling pitching from former Detroit star Justin Verlander and three hits and three RBIs from Alex Bregman.

Astros pitching did not allow a Seattle runner to reach third base in the first two games of the series, when the Mariners were shut out 3-0 and 4-0, respectively. A Eugenio Suarez home run in the seventh inning off Verlander on Wednesday marked the first time in the series that Seattle had a runner reach third base and ended a 26 1/3-inning scoreless streak for Astros pitching.

Houston pitching allowed two runs on just 14 hits — 13 of them singles — in the three-game set. The Astros’ starting pitching, led by Verlander, is 7-2 with a 2.25 ERA in its last nine games, including seven quality starts.

“JV gave us a great start,” Bregman said after the win. “The guys came out swinging the bat today and yeah, it’s a good, good series to build off of it and keep going.”

Jose Urquidy gets the start for the Astros. He is 2-1 with a 5.95 ERA in four starts this season.

Astros manager Dusty Baker Jr. added to his resume with his 2,001st coaching win on Wednesday. He is the 12th manager in MLB history to reach 2,000 wins. Baker could pass 11th-place Bruce Bochy (2,003 wins) with three wins in the four games in the Detroit series.

Detroit heads to Houston after splitting a doubleheader at home with Pittsburgh on Wednesday afternoon, winning the first game 3-2 and dropping the nightcap 7-2.

The Tigers had just three hits in the first game on Wednesday but took advantage of a three-run fifth inning that was prolonged by a two-out throwing error by Pittsburgh’s Ke’Bryan Hayes that allowed two runs to score. Detroit’s relief corps tossed 4 2/3 scoreless innings in the Game 1 victory.

The bullpen came apart in the nightcap. In the seventh, Drew Hutchison gave up a walk and a double. Will Vest took over and threw a wild pitch, hit a batter, and gave up a sacrifice fly. That sequence allowed two runs to score.

In the ninth, Joe Jimenez was tagged for three runs on two hits and a walk, with the big blow coming on a two-run homer by the Pirates’ Daniel Vogelbach.

“This team, when we play good defense and we don’t walk people, we have a good chance,” Hinch said after the second game loss on Wednesday. “I mean, obviously we’re not hitting right now on all cylinders, but you know, when we make plays defensively, we’re a completely different look. So hopefully that’s a sign of things to come this weekend.”

The Tigers send Tarik Skubal to the mound Thursday. He’s 1-2 with a 3.05 ERA in four starts this season.

Detroit has three of its starting pitchers from the opening day roster on the injured list.

–Field Level Media