PREVIEW: Astros seek series win in finale vs. Blue Jays

Apr 2, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Luis Garcia (77) delivers a pitch during the second inning against the Chicago White Sox at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

PREVIEW: Astros seek series win in finale vs. Blue Jays

After splitting the first two games of their three-game set with the Toronto Blue Jays, the Houston Astros are looking to end the home stand on a high note Wednesday night before heading to Atlanta for the weekend.

Right-hander Luis Garcia (0-2, 7.71) will start the series finale for Houston. Despite recording a season-high seven strikeouts against the Texas Rangers on Friday in his most recent outing, Garcia was the pitcher of record in the Astros’ 6-2 loss after allowing five runs on six hits and two walks over five innings. He has yet to log more than 15 outs in a start this season.

Garcia is 1-1 with a 4.00 ERA over three career starts against the Blue Jays. He went 0-1 with a 5.25 ERA in two outings against Toronto last season, including a home start on April 24 during which he allowed five runs on five hits and one walk with six strikeouts over six innings but did not factor into the decision of the Astros’ 8-7 victory.

Already without second baseman Jose Altuve (thumb) and left fielder Michael Brantley (shoulder), the Astros placed outfielder Chas McCormick (back) on the 10-day injured list earlier Tuesday before sluggers Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker were dinged in the eighth inning.

Alvarez turned an ankle on his RBI single and was subsequently lifted for a pinch-runner. Tucker fouled a pitch off his right knee and remained in the game despite being doubled over in pain for an extended period. Tucker also delivered a run-scoring hit in the eighth.

“We probably won’t know until Wednesday to see if they’re sore or not,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said of the status of Alvarez and Tucker. “I’m sure they’ll be sore, but it depends on how sore, so we’ll have to wait and see.

“You can’t time it, but if you had to, we’d rather them (injuries) happen early and have time to rebound versus in the middle or late in the year.”

One after another, the pocket of right-handed hitters at the heart of the Toronto Blue Jays’ lineup delivered hits to the opposite field on Tuesday, base knocks that produced a positive result in the middle game of this three-game series in Houston.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Matt Chapman belted opposite-field home runs in the top of the fourth inning before Bo Bichette chased Astros starter Jose Urquidy with an RBI single to right field in the fifth to pace the Blue Jays’ 4-2 win.

Guerrero hitting the ball in the air the opposite way was a positive sign, while Bichette going to right field is a part of his general approach. Chapman has been on a tear of late, homering for a second consecutive game while increasing his extra-base hits total to a major-league-best 14.

“Overall, up and down, that’s been pretty consistent throughout the lineup this year,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said of the opposite-field hitting.

Right-hander Jose Berrios (1-2, 7.98 ERA) is the scheduled starter for the Blue Jays on Wednesday, the rubber match of the series. He notched the victory in his previous outing after allowing one run on four hits with six strikeouts over five innings in the Blue Jays’ 6-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday — Tampa Bay’s first loss of the season after 13 straight wins. Berrios surrendered 12 earned runs over 9 2/3 innings over his first two starts of the season.

Berrios is 4-3 with a 4.81 ERA over seven career starts against the Astros with 33 strikeouts and 16 walks in 33 2/3 innings. He faced the Astros once last season on April 30, allowing one run on seven hits and two walks with five strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings in a 2-1 home victory.

–Field Level Media contributed to this article.

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