Keuchel, Bregman lead Astros past Rays
HOUSTON -- When it became apparent that Alex Bregman and Yuli Gurriel would someday become lineup fixtures for the Houston Astros, the optimistic plan was for nights like Saturday to unfold and for the organization to reap the benefit of their presence.
Bregman and Gurriel went a combined 4-for-7 with five RBIs while left-hander Dallas Keuchel pitched seven solid innings as the Astros claimed a 6-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays at Minute Maid Park.
Bregman finished 2-for-4 with three RBIs while Gurriel went 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs. Carlos Correa and Evan Gattis also posted multi-hit contests; right fielder George Springer reached base four times in five plate appearances leading off for the Astros (68-61), who have won seven of eight games.
“This (Astros’) lineup is good; they are a young lineup, but they are also very, very talented,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said.
Keuchel (9-12) mitigated the damage of nine hits by issuing only one walk. He was served by a pair of inning-ending double plays in the first and second innings and closed the sixth and seventh with strikeouts to strand runners in scoring position.
Catcher Bobby Wilson slugged a two-run home run to left field off Keuchel in the fifth inning, his fifth home run representing the Rays’ offense. Tampa Bay (54-74) will attempt to avert the sweep on Sunday in the finale of the three-game series.
Rookie left-hander Blake Snell (4-7) suffered the loss for the Rays.
After laboring with his control in each of his three previous outings, Snell managed to complete his abbreviated start without issuing a walk. But from the very start the Astros hit Snell hard, and after he worked around a leadoff single by Springer in the first, Snell found trouble in the second after surrendering three consecutive doubles.
Correa, Gattis and Gurriel doubled in succession off Snell to open the second, with Gattis and Gurriel recording RBIs in the process. For Gurriel, it was his first major league RBI, and for Snell, the power surge resulted in a 2-0 deficit.
“Obviously I‘m super happy,” said Gurriel, a fixture on the international stage for Cuba before signing with the Astros last month. “I’ve had a lot of them but tonight’s was special and I‘m glad I got that one today.”
Two batters into the third inning, Bregman doubled that lead with a two-run homer to left field, his fifth home run on the season. Snell allowed two more hits in the third, escaped that frame with an inning-ending double play, but departed one batter into the fourth after Marwin Gonzalez lined a single off his lower left leg.
“We put together a lot of good team at-bats, scored a few and then Marwin of course, hit a laser that ended up knocking (Snell) out of the game early,” Bregman said. “But I feel like we put together a lot of good at-bats today. Those back-to-back-to-back doubles were huge.”
Snell allowed a season-high nine hits and five runs (four earned). It marked the first time this season he didn’t walk a batter, but the damage elsewhere was severe.
”They were just finding holes, really,“ Snell said. ”I mean Gattis got a good one. I don’t know. I felt like I was making good pitches.
“I was thinking differently than what they were thinking. I felt like they were in attack mode, swing mode, so I guess I should have been throwing more pitches out of the zone.”
NOTES: Rays RHP Alex Cobb (Tommy John surgery) made his eighth rehab start on Saturday, pitching for Triple-A Durham against Gwinnett. Cobb last pitched in majors on Sept. 28, 2014 at Cleveland. ... Astros OF Colby Rasmus participated in baseball activities for a second consecutive day and is nearing a return to the lineup. The club remains undecided on whether Rasmus will complete a minor-league rehab assignment or simply rejoin the team. Rasmus was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Aug. 5 following surgery to remove a cyst from his right ear. ... Rays UTL Nick Franklin was reinstated from the seven-day concussion list. In 26 starts this season, Franklin has played left field (14 starts), first base (five), second base (four), designated hitter (two) and right field (one). ... Astros LHP Dallas Keuchel was the fourth different Cy Young Award winner Rays LHP Blake Snell has faced over his 14 career starts. Snell lost to Indians RHP Corey Kluber on June 21, Tigers RHP Justin Verlander on July 2, and Red Sox LHP David Price on Aug. 22.