Astros look to keep pressure on as they visit Tigers

The Houston Astros reached the 90-win mark on Sunday. They’ll start a push to 100 when they visit the Detroit Tigers for a three-game series, which begins Monday night.

Houston’s (90-50) bats heated up in the finale of a weekend series against the Los Angeles Angels, as it clubbed five homers in a 12-4 victory.

“That’s a benchmark I have for myself and the team every year,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said of 90 victories. “I always say if we can get 15 victories per month and you add on from there, there’s a good chance you’ll be somewhere in the playoff hunt. We’re there not even in the middle of September, and that’s a good sign for us.”

Mauricio Dubon, Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, Trey Mancini and Kyle Tucker hit the long balls. Bregman’s homer was a grand slam.

“This is how I used to hear about Bregman hitting balls out of right-center field,” Baker said. “That’s the first one that I’ve seen this year from him. That’s a great sign.”

With 22 games left in the regular season, the Astros need to win just half of their remaining contests to surpass the 100-win mark.

Framber Valdez (14-5, 2.64 ERA) will start the series opener for Houston.

Valdez had a personal six-game winning streak halted in his last start.

He gave up four runs (two earned) in 6 2/3 innings while striking out 11 against Texas on Tuesday.

“It was vintage Framber,” Baker said. “He had a good breaking ball. He struck out 11.”

Valdez will be making his 27th start of the season.

“I still feel strong, and (I’m) still working hard, and I’m going to continue with the same intensity,” he said.

The Tigers will counter with another left-hander, Eduardo Rodriguez (3-4, 4.13). He gave up three solo homers in his last start but those were the only runs he allowed in seven innings against the Angels on Tuesday.

Rodriguez set down the last 11 batters he faced but Detroit lost 5-4 in extra innings.

“He caught a rhythm, he did a lot of nice things to keep us where it was at,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said.

Rodriguez will be making his 13th start and fifth since a three-month hiatus due to injury and personal reasons.

The Tigers had a three-game winning streak halted by a 4-0 loss to Kansas City on Sunday. They have now been blanked 20 times this season, tying the club record in the live-ball era.

“We swung the bats better on this trip, so you try not to drag those other shutouts in,” Hinch said. “I wouldn’t have tallied them up until you told me. We’ve got to get better, obviously. You don’t want to get shut out once, let alone 20 times. But that’s our reality.”

Hinch hopes his team has a short memory. It scored 23 runs during the modest win streak.

“We can’t let today get to us,” he said. “Just wash it off and get home. If we swing the bat like we have the majority of this trip, we’ll be fine.”

–Field Level Media