Apr 25, 2023; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Luis Garcia (77) throws a pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays in the first inning at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
The Astros became the first visiting team to win inside Tropicana Field in 15 attempts after beating the Rays 5-0 on Tuesday night. Luis Garcia earned his second win of the season by tossing six shutout innings, and the Astros’ five-run fifth inning represented the game’s only offense. Mauricio Dubón, Jeremy Peña, Kyle Tucker, Corey Julks, and Jake Meyers each collected two hits for the Astros, who are 6-2 during this nine-game stretch against contenders Toronto, Atlanta and Tampa Bay.
Astros finally break through in the fifth
Neither team could muster much offensively after the Astros left the bases loaded in the first, and Rays starter Drew Rasmussen allowed just two men to reach in the second, third, and fourth innings combined. The Astros finally broke through against him during their third trip through the order.
Mauricio Dubón doubled with one-out, extending his hitting streak to 19 games, and he scored the game’s first run when Jeremy Peña did the same. Kyle Tucker singled to bring home Peña, and after Alex Bregman flied out, Jose Abreu made it a 3-0 game when he smashed a double past third base. Corey Julks doubled home Abreu with the aid of a misplay by Rays left fielder Randy Arozarena, and Jake Meyers capped the inning with an RBI infield single, ending Rasmussen’s night.
The Rays right-hander entered the game allowing 5.6 hits per nine innings, but he allowed nine hits against the Astros on Tuesday. Six of those hits came during a seven-batter stretch in the fifth, as the Astros tagged him with his first loss of the season. Rasmussen’s ERA was 1.71 when he took the mound to start the fifth inning, but he walked off the mound with that number up to 3.33.
Luis Garcia dominates baseball’s best offense
Garcia earned his first win of the season last Wednesday by shutting out a potent Blue Jays lineup for seven innings, and he followed that outing up on Tuesday by stifling baseball’s best lineup for six innings. A night after the Rays tagged Jose Urquidy for six runs on seven hits over just 2.2 innings, Garcia struck out six Rays while allowing just three hits.
Garcia generated 15 swinging strikes – seven on his cutter – and of the 13 balls put in play by Rays hitters, only two were well-hit. His ERA now sits at 4.00 after he finished his first three starts with a 7.71 mark.
Bullpen does its job
The Astros bullpen followed Garcia by tossing three scoreless innings. Phil Maton continued to flummox hitters by retiring the side in order in the seventh. He has not allowed a run in 10 appearances this season with only five batters reaching base against him in 11.2 innings. Rafael Montero worked around a one-out single to keep the Rays off the board in the eighth, and Ryan Pressly faced the minimum in the ninth to finish off the shutout.
Houston entered the game with baseball’s seventh-lowest ERA, and that number dropped to 3.04 after Tuesday’s game.
News and Notes:
•Dubón is batting .341 during his current 19-game hitting streak, tying Bob Watson (1973) for the Astros’ longest hitting streak before May 1.
•Jake Meyers is batting .429 over his current eight-game hitting streak.
•Astros Triple-A pitcher J.P. France was named Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Week.
•Lance McCullers Jr. (elbow) threw 20 pitches from the slope of the mound, per the Athletic, and could throw from the rubber within the next two weeks.
•Chas McCormick (back) swung the bat for the first since landing on the IL last week, per Dusty Baker. He was eligible to be activated on Tuesday, but Baker said he will likely need to go on a rehab assignment first.
The Astros and Rays will play the finale of their three-game series on Wednesday night with Hunter Brown (2-0) taking the mound for Houston.