HOUSTON — For the first time in 35 years, the Astros swept a seven-game homestand — and for the first time at Minute Maid Park — getting terrific throwing from their starting rotation and bullpen and doing just enough offensively for the put on on the heels of the Angels, who won first place in the American League West.
The Astros completed a four-game sweep against the Tigers on Sunday afternoon, with three pitchers combining to get a one-hitter shutout in the 5-0 win. Aledmys Díaz pitched a grand slam in the third inning to help second-placed Houston in its first 7-0 home game since sweeping the Braves and Cardinals Aug. 14-20, 1987, at the Astrodome.
Astros starter Jake Odorizzi delivered his third straight solid start by pitching five innings and allowing just one hit. Cristian Javier followed him and struck out nine of the 10 batters he faced with five strikeouts, and Héctor Neris capped the shutout with a 1-2-3 ninth inning that included a field wall saveout. right by Kyle Tucker.
“The pitchers are always ahead of the batters,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “Even though they’re shooting well, they’re having a bit of a hard time offensively there scoring a few points. It’s all around the league and all around baseball. We will take it. We didn’t have many hits, but we got the big hit when he scored by Díaz. It was a blow for us. »
Here’s a look at what clicks for the Astros 18-11:
Throw, throw and throw again
Going 7-0 against the Mariners and Tigers, the Astros threw three shutouts and held the opposition to two runs in each of the other four games. Houston has allowed more than four points in a game only once since April 25, going 11-2 in that streak.
The Astros have allowed 37 hits, eight runs (seven earned), 13 walked and struck out 54 in 63 innings during the seven-game winning streak, posting a 1.00 ERA, a WHIP of .79 and a batting average of .271 opponents. The starters posted a 1.05 ERA; the bullpen, .89.
“Pitching is the name of the game,” Baker said. “Guys go deep into games. Our bullpen hasn’t been stretched too thin the last seven games. I mean, it was the last of 17 in a row. We urged our guys to finish strong, not to think about the day off [Monday].”
The only hit the Tigers had was a two-out double by Jonathan Schoop in the second inning, and Odorizzi walked back-to-back in the fourth. Odorizzi is 3-0 with a 0.51 ERA and 0.57 WHIP in his last three starts after allowing nine earned runs over nine innings in his first three starts.
“Today was a bit more of a fight,” he said. “I got a little squirrely out there in the middle, third and fourth innings. But I think that’s the difference now, I was able to correct the shot a lot quicker and make shots when I needed to get through those innings.
Just enough of the offense
The Astros didn’t exactly smash the ball on their seven-game winning streak, beating the opposition, 28-8. Houston cut .225/.326/.431 with 11 home runs, including the grand slam from Díaz and a solo home run from Alex Bregman on the fifth Sunday.
The Astros posted three straight 3-2 wins over the Tigers, including a no-call win on Thursday, before enjoying a five-point cushion on Sunday. Houston has scored more than four points twice since April 29.
“I know the guys are doing a good job of staying in the strike zone,” Bregman said. “I think guys swing on strikes and take balls and over time the cream goes to the top. I think our attack will be very good.
Díaz said he was emotional rounding the bases on his third career grand slam, which came on Mother’s Day.
“I just texted my mom and she’s very happy,” he said. “I said I hit that one for her, and I’m proud of it.”
Astros second baseman Jose Altuve was released from injured reserve on Monday and started all seven games, hitting .409/.519/.818 on the three-homer winning streak. Jeremy Peña, despite being two days behind, hit .368 with two homers, and Yordan Alvarez hit two homers.
The Astros will hit the road on a three-city road trip that kicks off Tuesday in Minneapolis against the Twins and Carlos Correa, who has spent the past seven years as a primary player in Houston. Justin Verlander (3-1, 1.93 ERA) will start, as the Astros opted to start Javier – who had started in his last three outings – in relief for three innings on Sunday and keep the rest of the rotation five days off.
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