Mandatory Credit: Photo by Kevin M Cox/AP/Shutterstock (13435989b) Houston Astros’ Jeremy Pena celebrates after hitting a two-run home run off Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Corey Kluber during the first inning of a baseball game, in Houston Rays Astros Baseball, Houston, United States – 02 Oct 2022
With four games left in the regular season, the Astros continued to play their main starters to keep their momentum going strong into the postseason.
Thanks to a big day at the plate by Jeremy Peña, Houston would grab another victory, number 104 on the season, as they take two of three against the Rays for another series win.
Astros strike first, Garcia allows one run over six innings
After a scoreless top half of the inning by Luis Garcia, Houston’s offense gave him a lead to work with in the bottom of the first. Jose Altuve reached base with a bunt single, setting up a two-run home run by Jeremy Peña to put the Astros out front 2-0. Tampa Bay cut the lead in half in the top of the second, getting a leadoff double and RBI single on consecutive pitches to make it 2-1 before Garcia would retire the next three batters.
Both starters settled in after those early runs, with Luis Garcia allowing no hits after the RBI single in the second. He posted a quality start, getting through six innings of one-run baseball. His final line: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 84 P.
Peña adds insurance, Houston takes the series
With Garcia’s day done, Dusty Baker brought in Ryne Stanek as Houston’s first reliever in the top of the seventh. Stanek dealt with some traffic, giving up a one-out single and two-out walk, but stranded both runners. An error in the bottom of the inning allowed Chas McCormick to get to second base, and Peña capitalized with his third RBI of the game to extend the lead to 3-1.
Bryan Abreu was next out of the bullpen in the top of the eighth, working around a single to keep it a two-run game. Rafael Montero entered in the ninth and, despite adding drama by loading the bases on a hit and two walks, was able to finish off the win, getting his 14th save of the season.
News and notes
One series to go: The Astros will welcome the Phillies for the season’s final three games. In Monday’s opener, the pitching matchup will be Lance McCullers Jr. (4-1, 2.38 ERA) for Houston vs. Aaron Nola (10-13, 3.36 ERA) for Philadelphia.
107 wins still in play: At 104-55, and with three games to go, the Astros can match a franchise record 107 wins if they sweep their final series against the Phillies.
Peña one shy of Correa: With the 21st home run of his rookie season on Sunday, Jeremy Peña is just one shy of matching the club record by a rookie shortstop, set by Carlos Correa in 2015.