|5:10 PM PT6:10 PM MT7:10 PM CT8:10 PM ET20:10 ET0:10 GMT8:10 5:10 PM MST7:10 PM EST7:40 PM VEN4:10 UAE (+1)7:10 PM CT, August 22, 2017
Minute Maid Park, Houston, Texas Attendance: 23,798
Astros try to regain momentum against Nationals
Washington Nationals at Houston Astros
- The Nationals beat the Padres, 4-1, at Petco Park on Sunday, taking three of four over the weekend in San Diego, and improving to 9-4 in their last 13 games. Washington has allowed one run or fewer 10 times since the 2017 All-Star break -- tied with Cleveland for most in MLB.
- The Astros dropped a 3-2 home decision to the A's on Sunday, scoring three or fewer runs for a season-high fourth straight game overall. Houston is 76-48 on the season -- tied for its best record through 124 games in any season all-time (also 1998).
- These clubs are meeting for the first time since 2014 tonight. Dating to August 6, 2012, the Nats have won eight straight games in this matchup, outscoring the Astros by a combined 40-22 in those contests.
- Tanner Roark allowed three runs (all earned) in 7.0 IP at home last Wednesday against the Angels, taking the loss, and falling to 3-6 with a 5.55 ERA in his last 11 starts overall. Roark, who won his only career outing vs. the Astros in 2014, is 3-0 with a 1.86 ERA in three road starts since the 2017 All-Star break.
- Charlie Morton went 6.1 innings and allowed just one run last Wednesday against Arizona, earning the victory, and garnering his career-high tying 10th win of the season (also had 10 wins in 2011). Morton is just 2-4 with a 6.27 ERA in eight career starts against the Nationals.
- Including two four-hit performances, Jose Altuve is batting .464 against National League opponents in 2017 -- best of any player in baseball during interleague play this season (minimum 50 AB). Altuve is 7-for-14 during his current three-game hitting streak against the Nationals.
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- A's hire Matt Williams as 3rd base coach
- 5 minor leaguers receive drug bans
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HOUSTON -- The Houston Astros already had clinched their series with the American League West cellar-dwelling Oakland Athletics prior to their home loss on Sunday, but that fact did not stem the continuing swell of concern casting a pall over the team with the best record in the AL.
The Astros will keep searching for answers as the Washington Nationals visit Minute Maid Park for a three-game interleague series beginning on Tuesday.
Even after following a season-long five-game losing streak by winning five of eight games, the Astros (76-48) haven't reclaimed the form that saw them reach 34 games over .500 just three weeks ago. Losing 11 of 14 games will raise question marks alongside the red flags hoisted when the club failed to make a significant roster addition at the non-waiver trade deadline.
From an internal perspective, the answers for the slump are obvious. Houston remains hamstrung by injuries, with seven regular contributors on the disabled list. The Astros can play better for sure, but waiting for reinforcements is a logical means to addressing all the losses.
"I think our guys are going to get healthy," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "I think we're fighting through a tough stretch."
Unlike Houston, the Nationals (74-48) are trending in a positive direction at a season-best 26 games over .500. They've done so despite recently placing All-Stars Bryce Harper and Max Scherzer on the disabled list.
"It's a big series because they're a good team," Hinch said of the Nationals. "We've got to play clean baseball to beat them. Obviously, we get a day off (Monday), which is something a lot of guys need. That'll be nice to have at home and get back to the ballpark on Tuesday.
"They present a lot of challenges. They do a lot of things well, which is why they're at where they are. So do we."
Right-hander Charlie Morton (10-5, 3.69 ERA) will start the opener for the Astros. Morton is 2-4 with a 6.27 ERA over eight career starts against the Nationals, but he has not faced Washington this season.
He is 5-2 with a 3.26 ERA over eight starts following his reinstatement from a month-plus stint on the 10-day disabled list caused by a right lat strain.
The Nationals will counter with Tanner Roark (9-8, 4.70 ERA). The right-hander allowed one run on seven hits and two walks with four strikeouts over five innings in his lone career appearance against Houston, a 6-5 victory on June 17, 2014, at Nationals Park.
Even with the recent losses of Harper (knee) and Scherzer (neck) added to a handful of sidelined starters (Trea Turner, Adam Eaton, Jayson Werth), the Nationals continue to roll in large part due to their exceptional pitching. Left-hander Gio Gonzalez matched Scherzer with his team-leading 12th victory on Sunday in San Diego, while right-hander Stephen Strasburg bounced back from a short stint on the DL to pitch effectively in a weekend loss to the Padres.
And the bullpen, maligned for most of the season, has been reborn with the additions of left-hander Sean Doolittle (11 saves in 15 games with Washington), and righties Ryan Madson (2-0, 0.00 ERA but currently disabled with a sprained finger) and Brandon Kintzler (2-0, 0.90 ERA).
"The main thing is that we pitch well," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. "It starts with the pitching. We've got good pitching every day. These guys are just trying to find a way to win."
Updated August 22, 2017
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Published: 2015-05-28 13:51:00
Updated: 2016-07-13 10:41:59
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