Well, the good times for the Astros’ lineup against the Angels’ pitching staff came to a screeching halt Sunday. So much for a sweep.
Following a 22-run outburst in the previous two games combined, Houston’s bats fell silent when it mattered most, hitting 0-for-8 in team RISP. The lone run occurred when Jon Singleton scored from third on a wild pitch to Mauricio Dubón in the bottom half of the sixth inning.
Houston had a .133 batting average on the day compared to a .271 xBA. The Angels, on the other hand, had a .206 batting average with a .154 xBA. The difference was Shohei Ohtani’s solo shot over the batter’s eye in center field and Yordan Alvarez barely missing a massive home run of his own. A couple of feet short. Just one of those games, unfortunately, when the opposition converted on a couple of more opportunities.
That said, there are positives to discuss. José Urquidy had a good day at the office as he held the Angels to a single run across five innings of work with no walks and seven strikeouts. 54 of his 80 pitches were strikes and he generated 15 whiffs, with nine coming from his four-seam fastball.
Urquidy’s return provides additional stability to a rotation hampered by injury for most, if not all, of the season. While his first start was a bit rough, the right-hander’s start Sunday was a step in the right direction. The goal for him in this start was five to six innings or 90 pitches. Mission accomplished in that regard, I believe. An effective Urquidy also allows the Astros to become a bit more flexible with usage as the club insists on managing the workload on rookie starters Hunter Brown and J.P. France.
The bullpen, however, sprung some leaks. Parker Mushinski gave up that solo home run to Ohtani that sparked comparisons to Alvarez’s dinger in the World Series. That proved the difference maker in this one. However, the Astros had issues with traffic on the basepaths with Kendall Graveman (one) and Rafael Montero (three) issuing free passes. Bryan Abreu and Ryne Stanek were subsequently brought in mid-inning to clean up the traffic.
With this loss, the Astros are now three games back of the Rangers for the division lead. At the time of this recap, Texas was losing 1-0 to the Giants in the bottom of the sixth inning. A win places Houston 3 1⁄2 games back while a Rangers’ loss moves them back to 2 1⁄2 games back.