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Jose Urquidy, Brandon Bielak impress as Astros blank Cardinals 3-0

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Hey, Jose Altuve hit a leadoff home run today!

MLB: Miami Marlins at Houston Astros Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Jose Urquidy already looks in mid-season form following today’s start against the Cardinals. The right-hander kept the opposing bats quiet as he tossed five perfect innings, retiring all 15 batters he faced while striking out four. If the Astros can get this version of Urquidy more times than not this season, I feel pretty good about the 2021 rotation.

For the offense, Jose Altuve got things started early with a leadoff home run against St. Louis starter Daniel Ponce de Leon (Go Coogs!) in the first inning. It was a rather nice start to the evening.

That solo shot gave me flashbacks to George Springer and all I can say is how much I miss watching that man play in an Astros uniform.

Anyway, Yuli Gurriel drove in the second run of the first inning with a hit-by-pitch as the bases were loaded. Houston’s bats would fall silent for a while until Yordan Alvarez drove in Carlos Correa on a strong double to left field in the fifth inning. While the Astros would pick up nine hits on the day, those three runs would be it in terms of damage.

A slow day from the offense didn’t mean much, however, as Brandon Bielak pitched four strong innings in relief of Urquidy. A candidate for the fifth starter role entering Opening Day, Bielak allowed two hits and two walks while striking out three and picking up the save. Overall, it was an encouraging day for two pitchers that figure to play a key role in April as the Astros await the return of Framber Valdez.

The most important event of the day occurred when the regulars were removed and started to give interviews to the media. In this case, we heard directly from Carlos Correa about any extension talks with the club and, well, it doesn’t seem optimistic right now that a deal gets done before Opening Day.

Also, Steve Cishek was granted his release following the game. I honestly didn’t see that one coming, at least not right now. Probably related to the tax threshold, though.

Zack Greinke gets the starting nod as the Astros take on Trevor Rogers and the Marlins tomorrow night at 5:05 CST.

Box score HERE.