Urquidy (10 K's) extends Astros' streak of stellar pitching

May 23rd, 2022

HOUSTON -- The Astros are a team loaded with talent. There are few weaknesses, and starting pitching is certainly not one of them. 

On Sunday afternoon, José Urquidy became the latest Astros starter to deliver a strong performance. The right-hander allowed only one run on six hits and one walk over 6 2/3 innings in a 5-2 victory to seal the Lone Star Series win at Minute Maid Park.

He also continued his domination of the Rangers. In his career against Texas, Urquidy is 4-0 over five starts with a sparkling 1.60 ERA. 

Urquidy (4-1) compiled a career-high-tying 10 strikeouts against the Rangers on Sunday, becoming the first Astros pitcher to reach double-digit strikeouts in a game this season.

“Today was good,” Urquidy said. “I just followed my catcher [Martín Maldonado] and [went] with his lead. I was very pleased.”

As was his manager, Dusty Baker.

“He was great,” Baker said. “He had excellent control, had a good breaking ball, and his changeup was active, where it usually is.”

Urquidy’s changeup kept Texas batters off-balance, as he allowed only one walk and one extra-base hit.

On Saturday, Justin Verlander tossed six scoreless innings in a win over the Rangers. As a group, the Astros’ starting pitching leads the American League in innings (228 1/3) and has the lowest ERA at 2.96.  

“We’re very good,” Urquidy said. “We’re working hard and working with purpose. We’re on the same page, trying to win.”

The Astros are 6-2 in Urquidy’s eight starts this season. 

Urquidy pitched with a lead. Jose Altuve led off the bottom half of the first inning with his ninth home run, and the Astros were on their way.

“My confidence was good,” Urquidy said. “When I have a lead early in the game, it gives me more confidence, and I keep the same rhythm.”

Rangers left fielder Eli White felt the full effect of Urquidy, who struck out White three times. As the leadoff batter for Texas, White was Urquidy’s first victim as Urquidy struck out the side in the first and racked up two more punchouts in the second.

The only blemish on Urquidy’s stat line was the homer Mitch Garver hit to open the fifth, cutting Houston’s lead in half. 

“You couldn’t ask any more from him,” said Ryan Pressly, who entered in the ninth with two runners on base to earn his sixth save. “He threw the ball extremely well.”

Urquidy’s previous 10-strikeout game came on Sept. 11, 2019, versus Oakland. His 6 2/3-inning outing is also his longest of the season. Baker is starting to stretch out his starters as the season moves forward. 

“This was the furthest he’s gone in a game [this season],” Baker said. “Most pitchers, on their side and our side, are starting to get to that 90-100 [pitch count]. He had real good stuff.”

Over his last four starts, covering 20 2/3 innings, Urquidy is 2-0 with a 2.61 ERA.

The only real traffic Urquidy encountered came in the seventh, his final inning. Even then, both of the outs Urquidy recorded came on strikeouts. But between the strikeouts of Garver and Sam Huff, Urquidy walked Nathaniel Lowe, and No. 9 hitter Brad Miller singled to put two runners on.

Baker then pulled Urquidy after 98 pitches (69 strikes), and Rafael Montero struck out White swinging to end the seventh-inning threat.

With Astros starters providing consistent outings and Lance McCullers Jr. making significant progress in his rehab, it is safe to say the rotation will continue to be a strong suit as Houston looks to stay atop the AL West entering midseason.