It seemed fortuitous timing for Houston that both J.J. Matijevic and Mauricio Dubon homered in the Astros' 4-3 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Sunday in the rubber match of that series.
Houston, which will open a two-game interleague set against the visiting New York Mets on Tuesday, was without starting shortstop Jeremy Pena (thumb), his backup Aledmys Diaz (shoulder) and outfielder Yordan Alvarez (hand), a viable candidate for American League MVP.
Dubon and Matijevic filled in for Diaz and Alvarez, respectively, and delivered in a pinch. And while Pena is on the injured list, the Astros are hopeful Diaz and Alvarez can avoid it, with the scheduled day off Monday perhaps offering Alvarez just enough time to rest and recuperate.
"The prognosis is better than we had hoped for," Astros manager Dusty Baker said of Alvarez. "He's day-to-day, nothing structurally wrong. That's big. I was trying to figure out if I was going to have to change my game plan or how to manage without that big bat in the lineup. Hopefully, it'll just be a few days."
Right-hander Jose Urquidy (5-3, 4.99 ERA) has the starting assignment for the Astros on Tuesday. After going 3-0 with a 3.45 ERA over a six-start span during which Houston went 5-1, Urquidy is 1-2 with a 6.43 ERA and .938 opponent OPS over his last four starts with as many strikeouts as runs allowed (17 each). He has allowed at least three earned runs in each of those starts and did not factor into the decision in the Astros' 4-3 road victory over the Texas Rangers on June 14, when he surrendered three runs on five hits with four strikeouts over six innings.
This will mark the first career appearance against the Mets for Urquidy, who is 0-1 with a 3.96 ERA over five interleague starts.
Right-hander Trevor Williams (1-3, 3.53 ERA) will start the series opener for the Mets on Tuesday. He is 1-2 with a 4.50 ERA in five starts this season, compiling a 1.30 WHIP in 20 innings. Williams is averaging 6.3 strikeouts per nine innings as a starter and 10.9 strikeouts per nine innings as a reliever but has issued only two walks over his five starts. His previous start came against the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 5, when Williams allowed two runs on six hits with five strikeouts over five innings in the Mets' 5-4 victory. He did not factor into the decision.
Williams has faced the Astros once previously, allowing four runs on eight hits with four strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings in a 5-1 loss while with the Pittsburgh Pirates on June 25, 2019.
The Mets claimed their third consecutive series victory and improved to 20-4 after a loss by blanking the Miami Marlins 6-0 on Monday. Second baseman Jeff McNeil was lost to right hamstring tightness in the fourth inning, the only downer of a pristine performance that featured the Mets scoring twice on sacrifice flies and once each on a bases-loaded walk and a wild pitch.
"There was a lot of good baseball played," Mets manager Buck Showalter said. "I was really proud of the way we played baseball. We cashed in the opportunities we had and took what was there."
--Field Level Media