Weary Astros meet Orioles, aim for bullpen improvement

MLB Baseball

At some point, playing 20 games in 20 days was going to catch up to the Houston Astros, and the past five games have seen a taxed bullpen show signs of wear and tear.

Even with the utilization of a six-man rotation, the Astros — who have lost four of their past five games — have placed a heavy workload on their bullpen. And after surrendering six runs in a 9-7 loss to the Baltimore Orioles on Monday, Houston relievers gave up 12 runs in a 13-3 loss Tuesday after starter Jose Urquidy departed with right-shoulder discomfort. He recorded only four outs while throwing 27 pitches.

“We’re in a bad way pitching-wise,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “We just have to rebound (Wednesday). Try to get some key hits, and that would take a little pressure off. “It didn’t help tonight after Urquidy left with an injury.”

Rookie right-hander Luis Garcia (6-4, 2.83 ERA) has the starting assignment for the host Astros on Wednesday night. He allowed two runs on seven hits and two walks with five strikeouts over six innings in his previous start, a 12-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers last Thursday. Garcia has just one losing decision over his past 10 starts. This will mark his first career appearance against the Orioles.

Right-hander Matt Harvey (3-9, 7.54) will start the series finale for the Orioles on Wednesday. After winning three of his first six starts this season, Harvey is 0-8 with a 10.46 ERA over his past 10 starts. His most recent victory came at the Oakland Athletics on May 1.

Harvey did not face the Astros last week during the three-game series in Baltimore and is 0-3 with a 12.79 ERA over three career starts against Houston in his career.

Orioles center fielder Cedric Mullins again played the role of linchpin Tuesday, finishing 4-for-5 with two RBIs and a walk against the Astros. He hit a leadoff home run, his 14th homer of the season, in the first inning, and his RBI double in the seventh gave Baltimore the lead for good at 4-3.

The four-hit game was the third of the season for Mullins, who entered Tuesday ranked first among qualified American League outfielders in hits (94) and steals (14) among a host of other categories. The Orioles have the worst record in the AL, but a correlation between Baltimore wins and standout performances from Mullins has developed.

“I’m always trying to contribute in some form or fashion, win or lose,” he said. “It’s a matter of just staying consistent. When we have moments or opportunities to win games, I want to be a part of that.”

Mullins was integral in both Oriole wins in this series, leading the team to its first road-series win since early May.

“Unbelievable game again,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “When he plays well, we have a good chance, and he’s playing well in wins and losses right now.”

–Field Level Media

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