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Jun 5, 2024 2:47 am

Astros hope situational hitting continues vs. Cardinals

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With Yainer Diaz finding his power swing and the Astros showing a penchant for quality at-bats, Houston will pursue a three-game sweep of the visiting St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday.

Diaz provided the biggest blow for the Astros with his three-run homer in the third inning on Tuesday, but Houston manufactured four additional runs with plate appearances that resulted in outs.

The Astros beat the Cardinals 8-5 as Diaz homered for the second straight game and Yordan Alvarez, Jake Meyers, Jeremy Pena and Victor Caratini each drove in a run via an out.

Alvarez and Meyers had back-to-back run-scoring groundouts in the bottom of the first, with Meyers’ grounder to the right side giving the Astros a 2-1 lead. Pena lifted Houston to a 7-2 lead with a sacrifice fly in the fourth, and Caratini added another sacrifice fly in the seventh to push the cushion to 8-5.

“Playing the game,” Astros manager Joe Espada said. “Those at-bats allow you to add insurance runs. Put pressure on the defense, and that’s the style of baseball that I know we’re capable of playing.

“Runners in scoring position, much better at-bats overall.”

Right-hander Ronel Blanco (5-1, 2.44 ERA) is scheduled to start for the Astros on Wednesday. He took his first loss of the season on Friday after allowing four runs on three hits and three walks with six strikeouts over 4 2/3 innings in a 6-1 setback to the Minnesota Twins. Blanco has six quality starts among his 10 appearances, including a no-hitter against the Toronto Blue Jays on April 1.

Blanco is set to oppose the Cardinals for the first time in his career.

Right-hander Miles Mikolas (3-6, 5.54 ERA) has the starting assignment for St. Louis. Despite recording his sixth quality start of the season, Mikolas was saddled with a 4-2 loss against the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday. He allowed three runs on five hits and one walk with five strikeouts over six innings. Mikolas finished 1-3 with a 5.18 ERA over six starts last month.

Mikolas is 0-1 with a 9.64 ERA over three career starts against the Astros.

The Cardinals committed two errors in each of the first two games of the series, leading to one unearned run in each contest. With eight errors over their past four games, the Cardinals have hit a fielding slump that is impacting the game in ways beyond unearned runs.

“If a play gets made, you line it up differently for the next guy that’s coming into the inning and how the whole bullpen lines up,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. “Anytime you give up extra outs, it changes the math a little bit.”

Both teams had to go deep into the bullpen on Tuesday after the starting pitchers, St. Louis’ Andre Pallante and Houston’s Spencer Arrighetti, each lasted only three innings. Arrighetti came out an inning after he was hit in the left calf by a line drive off the bat of Ivan Herrera.

“It just wasn’t worth pushing it,” Arrighetti said, according to MLB.com. “But I think I’ll be just fine.”

–Field Level Media

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