The Houston Astros appeared to have discovered a bit of magic during their four-game home series against the Los Angeles Angels, so much so that the circumstances behind their two-run deficit in the finale didn't appear to be enough to stem the recent tide of their winning ways.
However, the Astros didn't have quite enough to complete the four-game sweep of the Angels on Sunday, falling 4-2 to drop a game under .500.
Nevertheless, the Astros claimed a key series in their escape from the division cellar. But with the Seattle Mariners, whom Houston will host in a four-game series starting Monday, and the Oakland Athletics losing on Sunday, the Astros feel as though they lost an opportunity for more.
"You wanted all of them, but it's difficult to (sweep) a four-game series, which we did early in the year (at Oakland)," Astros manager Dusty Baker said. "We'll take three out of four. We would have liked to have won (Sunday) to pick up ground on Seattle and pick up ground on Oakland."
Right-hander Jose Urquidy (0-2, 5.14 ERA) will start the series opener for the Astros on Monday. He allowed four runs on six hits and three walks with a season-low one strikeout in five innings in a 6-3 loss to the Colorado Rockies on April 21. Urquidy posted 14 strikeouts over his previous two starts and 11 2/3 innings.
Urquidy has not recorded a decision in two appearances (one start) against the Mariners. He has allowed three runs on seven hits and three walks with seven strikeouts over 9 2/3 innings.
Left-hander Justus Sheffield (1-1, 4.86) gets the start for the Mariners on Monday. He recorded a season-high six strikeouts in his previous start, allowing three runs on four hits and three walks over 5 2/3 innings in a 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 19. Monday will mark his first start against an American League West opponent this season.
Sheffield has faced the Astros once previously, allowing two runs (one earned) on six hits and one walk with four strikeouts over six innings in the Mariners' 3-2 road loss on Aug. 16, 2020.
The Mariners fell 5-3 in Boston on Sunday yet salvaged split of that four-game series. They will land in Houston with a measure of concern regarding left-hander Nick Margevicius, who recorded just one out against the Red Sox in what was the shortest start of his career.
Margevicius walked four batters and allowed four runs. He is experiencing shoulder fatigue and will undergo an MRI in Houston. After Margevicius' departure, Ljay Newsome logged four innings in relief to spare the bullpen, a crucial development in advance of a four-game series.
"Obviously, he gave us a chance to come back in the ballgame," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "But even more importantly than that, what it sets us up to do going forward because we didn't have to run through every guy in our bullpen (Sunday)."
--Field Level Media