Astros head home after a wild week of ups and downs

May 19th, 2022

BOSTON -- Wednesday started with encouraging news for the Astros: Jake Odorizzi’s MRI revealed no damage to his Achilles.

After Odorizzi exited Fenway Park on a stretcher in Monday’s series opener against the Red Sox, the diagnosis of a lower left leg tendon strain was a good sign for the right-hander and his club.

The news came just ahead of the series finale, the last of a nine-game road trip for Houston. To cap a wild week of ups and downs, the Astros fell, 5-1, with Nick Pivetta throwing a complete game, to end their road trip 6-3.

Here’s a recap of the Astros’ week in Boston, and how they shape up as they head home for seven games at Minute Maid Park.

1. Starting pitching
After throwing five scoreless innings in his previous start against Minnesota on May 12, Luis Garcia gave up five runs (three earned) on five hits, including a home run, in the finale at Fenway. The right-hander threw 13 first-pitch balls and recorded a season-high three walks.

“He wasn’t real sharp,” manager Dusty Baker said. “Like I said, it was their night. They have one of the best three-four-fives in this league. And tonight we had trouble getting those guys out.”

Though Odorizzi’s diagnosis was the “best-case scenario,” it still leaves the club a man down as the timeline for his return remains up in the air. After adding Cristian Javier to go with a six-man rotation during a long stretch (33 games in 34 days), the Astros will be back to a five-man rotation for the time being.

Here’s how they’ll go in the upcoming series against Texas:

•  2.93 ERA)
Cristian Javier (2-1 3.20 ERA)
•  (5-1, 1.38 ERA)
•  (3-1, 4.81 ERA)

In his first two starts, Javier had a 1.74 ERA, which ballooned to 5.79 after he gave up seven earned run on Saturday against the Nationals. Despite his and Garcia’s scuffles, the Astros’ rotation ranks third in the Majors with a 3.20 ERA.

2. Offense
One night after breaking a franchise record and tying a Major League mark with five homers in an inning, the Astros were held to one run or fewer for just the fifth time this season and the first time this month.

In the first inning, it looked as if Tuesday's festivities had carried over. battled through a 10 pitch at-bat, coming out victorious with a leadoff homer off Pivetta. After that, Pivetta retired the next 18 batters he faced. It wasn’t until the seventh inning when the Astros got their second and final hit of the night, a double hit at 105.5 mph.

“He was good. He had great location,” Baker said of Pivetta. “It started out like we were going to have another night like last night. Altuve hits a homer, and Michael hits a bullet and then Yordan [Alvarez] hit one to the wall. Could have been a different game. But he was dealing, he settled down, he had a good high fastball, and then he’d throw a curveball on the same plane as the fastball.”

Despite going quietly in the finale, the Astros outscored the Red Sox 17-15 and finished the road trip with a plus-26 run differential, outscoring their opponents 58-32.

3. Stay the course
Though Wednesday’s game wasn’t the cap to a road trip the Astros were looking for, it wasn’t necessarily indicative of the baseball they’ve been playing.

“You know, you have those nights,” Baker said. “We wanted to be 7-2 on this road trip -- wanted to win this rubber match. I mean, we’ll take 6-3, but 7-2 would have been nice.”

As the Astros return home, they do so atop the AL West with a .632 winning percentage.

“We’re playing good baseball,” Brantley said. “We gotta continue to go out there and just continue what we’re doing. Obviously it works, A long road trip, but at the same time a successful one. So we’re going to go back home, play in front of our home fans and enjoy it.”