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Jun 3, 2024 12:54 am

Astros attempt to tame Cardinals in series opener

astros, twins

In a fitting twist given their recent lack of production with runners in scoring position, the Houston Astros’ lone hit in that situation during a three-game set with the visiting Minnesota Twins failed to yield a run.

After finishing a combined 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position on Friday and Saturday, the Astros went 1-for-6 in the series finale, a 4-3 loss on Sunday in a rubber match.

Houston, which will open a three-game interleague series with the visiting St. Louis Cardinals on Monday, received a two-out single from Alex Bregman with Jose Abreu on second in the seventh inning on Sunday, a ball hit to left field that prevented Abreu from scoring the go-ahead run.

Yordan Alvarez followed with a flyout to left, leaving the bases loaded before the Astros dropped to 5-13 in one-run games this season. Houston scored all nine of its runs in the series on homers.

“You like to see homers,” Astros manager Joe Espada said. “This is a team that is known for slugging and driving the ball out of the ballpark and hitting balls hard. We also are good at getting those insurance runs in, and right now, the last couple games it has been tough for us to do that.”

Right-hander Justin Verlander (3-2, 3.26 ERA) will start the series opener for the Astros on Monday. He has allowed one earned run in each of his past two starts, most recently scattering three hits across seven innings while settling for a no-decision against the host Seattle Mariners on Wednesday.

Verlander is 3-1 with a 4.32 ERA in four career starts against the Cardinals, but he hasn’t faced them since June 19, 2012, when he was a member of the Detroit Tigers.

Right-hander Kyle Gibson (4-2, 3.60) has the starting assignment for St. Louis.

In his latest outing, Gibson gave up just one run and two hits in six innings to record a win against the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday. He hasn’t taken a loss over his past eight starts, going 3-0 with a 2.54 ERA during that span.

Gibson is 4-3 with a 2.64 ERA — his lowest ERA against any team that he has faced at least 10 times — in 14 career starts against the Astros, including a 2-3 record and a 2.53 ERA in eight starts in Houston.

The Cardinals improved to 13-5 since ending a season-long seven-game losing streak thanks to a 5-4 win in 10 innings over the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday. St. Louis slugged two home runs and has hit 24 homers since May 12, the most in the National League during that span.

“We’re starting to swing it,” said Cardinals second baseman Nolan Gorman, who clubbed his 11th home run of the year in the first inning on Sunday. “Early on, we weren’t hitting, and that’s it. Now everyone is clicking, and I think there’s a lot more that we have to prove. We’re definitely a really good ball club. It’s a good clubhouse, and we’re ready to keep competing.”

–Field Level Media

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