Astros manager Dusty Baker has tabbed right-hander Jose Urquidy to start Game 3 of the American League Championship Series against the Rays on Tuesday at Petco Park. Urquidy started Houston’s Game 3 loss to the A’s in the AL Division Series, giving up four earned runs on five hits in 4 1/3 innings.
That makes it likely that veteran right-hander Zack Greinke will start Game 4 on Wednesday, though Baker wasn’t ready to announce that on Monday. Greinke started Game 4 of the ALDS on Thursday and allowed four runs in 4 2/3 innings, but the Astros still topped the A’s, 11-6, to advance to their fourth consecutive ALCS.
“Every day he gets another day off, he feels better,” Baker said about Greinke, who came down with some right arm soreness in the ALDS.
Meanwhile, Urquidy said he’s aiming to pitch deeper into the game than he has in his previous two playoff starts this year. Considering he missed most of the regular season following multiple coronavirus tests that had him in isolation for more than a month, Urquidy hasn’t quite built up his full arm strength. He’s gone 4 1/3 innings in each postseason start, throwing 76 pitches against the Twins in the Wild Card Series on Sept. 30 and 79 against the A’s on Thursday.
“I feel very good, physically, about my arm. Everything is good,” he said. “I’m trying to see hitters, go throw and follow my catcher. But I think the last two games, the last one was hard for me, but it’s part of baseball and I think I got another chance to pitch tomorrow and another chance to demonstrate my position as being a starter. I think we are going to do a better job than the last outing.”
Astros hang jersey honoring Pettis
The No. 8 jersey of third-base coach Gary Pettis hung in the Astros’ dugout at Petco Park for Game 1 of the ALCS. Pettis left the Astros on Sept. 15 and was later diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer of plasma cells. He has been away from the team since seeking treatment.
“He’s been around with us for a while, and we’re always hoping for the best for him and hoping he gets back here soon and recovers well,” Astros outfielder Kyle Tucker said. “I mean, having that jersey up with us is awesome, just having him know he’s still in our thoughts. He’s a great guy. I can’t say enough about him. Wish he was here with us, but we also hope he has a safe recovery.”
Baker said Pettis has been staying engaged by watching the games and even passing on information from afar.
“Gary is one of the best coaches that I know in a lot of different areas,” Baker said. “He occupied a number of hats here now -- third-base coach, he was like a mental coach, he was a baserunning coach, he was the bunting coach, he was the outfield coach. He’s missed very bad.”
Another tough call for Baker
Baker awoke early Monday to another difficult phone call, this one informing him that Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan, his longtime friend, had passed away. Morgan is the third Astros legend to pass away this year, joining Bob Watson and Jimmy Wynn, and is the fifth member of the Baseball Hall of Fame to die in the past six weeks.
“I knew he was sick,” Baker said. “I tried to call him because I hadn’t talked to him maybe in a month. Usually we go no more than a couple of weeks for me to ask him something or ask him for advice, or sometimes he’d just give it to me. So I knew something was wrong; I didn’t know exactly what.”
Morgan, a 10-time All-Star who broke into the Major Leagues with Houston and won two Most Valuable Player Awards and two World Series titles with the Reds, was 77 years old.
“He meant a lot to us, a lot to me, a lot to baseball, a lot to African Americans around the country, a lot to players that were considered undersized,” Baker said. “He was one of the first examples of speed and power for a guy that they said was too small to play. He was the first modern-day [Jose] Altuve. He was a heck of a person, a heck of a guy, great father, great businessman. Whatever he put his mind to, Joe was good at.”
On Sunday, Baker spoke at length about losing his friend and business partner Jimmie Lee Solomon, a former baseball executive who died Friday. Baker was also friends with Hall of Famers Bob Gibson, Tom Seaver, Al Kaline and Lou Brock, all of whom passed away recently. Baker also mourned the recent deaths of former big leaguers and friends Jay Johnstone and Claudell Washington.