Apr 12, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Houston Astros catcher Yainer Diaz (21) greets third baseman Alex Bregman (2) crossing home plate after Bregman hit a three-run home run against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the seventh inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Urquidy solid, bats explode late in Astros 7-0 win over Pirates
The Astros bounced back from Tuesday’s walk-off loss to earn their first series win by blanking the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-0 on Wednesday afternoon. The Astros blew open a 2-0 game when Alex Bregman hit a three-run homer in the seventh inning and then added a pair in the eighth, which was plenty for an Astros pitching staff that combined for its first shutout of the season, led by Jose Urquidy’s six shutout innings.
Jose Abreu puts the Astros on top
Abreu has collected his share of hits through the first dozen games of the season, but only one of those hits had been for extra bases, and Abreu entered Wednesday’s game with just three RBIs. He grounded out to first base with runners are first and second in the first inning, but he came through with two out in the third.
The Astros first baseman smacked a 3-2 curveball from Rich Hill into the left-centerfield gap for an RBI double. Both of Abreu’s extra-base hits have come on curveballs this season, but Wednesday’s was his first against a left-handed pitcher.
Abreu singled in the seventh inning, giving him his first multi-hit game since April 3.
Corey Julks and Alex Bregman provide a cushion
Making just the eighth start of his Major League career, Julks faced the 43-year-old Hill, starting for the 224th time as a Major Leaguer, and took him deep to left field to add to the Astros lead. Hill allowed just the two runs on five hits over six innings and gave way to right-hander Dauri Moreta, but the Pirates reliever struggled.
Chas McCormick followed Yainer Diaz’s one-out single with a walk. Alex Bregman followed and smacked a 2-0 fastball 395 feet to left field for his second home run in as many days, giving the Astros a 5-0 lead. Bregman has hit in four straight games after starting 2023 batting .139 in his first nine games without an extra-base hit.
Jose Urquidy gives the Astros another quality start
Astros starters hit the six-inning mark in just 2-of-9 games to start the season, but Urquidy gave the team a fourth straight start of six innings or more on Wednesday. The Astros right-hander scattered five hits, four of which were singles, over six shutout innings, earning his first win of the season and lowering his ERA to 2.35 through his first three starts. Urquidy generated 15 swinging strikes, with seven coming on his changeup. He was also the beneficiary of great plays by all three Astros outfielders.
Hector Neris replaced him and struck out a pair in a scoreless seventh inning, and Bryan Abreu stranded two runners in the eighth by striking out Andrew McCutchen with a 100.8 MPH fastball. Ronel Blanco worked around a leadoff walk to keep the Pirates off the board in the ninth.
News and Notes:
•Abreu has reached base in all 13 games this season, the longest streak to start a season for the Astros since Alex Bregman’s 25-game streak in 2020.
•Mauricio Dubon finished 2-for-4 and is batting .406 on his current eight-game hitting streak.
•Astros general manager Dana Brown told the Houston Chronicle that Michael Brantley is facing live pitching at the Astros spring training complex in West Palm Beach, FL, but there is no timetable on when he’ll start a rehab assignment.
The Astros will open a six-game homestand when the Texas Rangers visit Minute Maid Park on Friday night. The Astros will hand the ball to Luis Garcia (0-1). The Rangers will counter with Martin Perez (1-1).