After tough win, Astros head home to face flagging Rockies

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At the close of the eighth inning on Monday, the Houston Astros appeared on the verge of something cataclysmic

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The Astros had blown an eight-run lead in the finale of their four-game road series against the Texas Rangers, the team they are chasing in the American League West standings. Texas went in front in the bottom of the eighth and sent closer Will Smith to the mound in the top of the ninth

However, in a victory that ultimately might define their season, the Astros scored twice in the ninth and escaped with a 12-11 win

Houston claimed the series, capped a 10-game road trip with a 6-4 record and headed home to face the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday in the opener of a two-game interleague series and a six-game homestand

The win featured a grand slam from Kyle Tucker and a three-run home run from Jose Abreu, the 250th long ball of his career. Those blasts weren’t enough to prevent the Rangers from erasing a 10-2 deficit, but Tucker, Abreu and Chas McCormick strung together hits in the ninth, providing another glimpse of the Astros‘ pedigree

“They’re champions. They’re the champs,” Abreu said. “They keep fighting until that 27th out is recorded.

“We let people know that Houston is there.”

Right-hander Brandon Bielak (3-4, 4.37 ERA) has the starting assignment for the Astros in the series opener against Colorado. He was recalled from Triple-A Sugar Land on Monday for what will be his second stint with Houston this season

Eight of his nine appearances this season with the Astros came as a starter, most recently a 10-3 home loss to the Cincinnati Reds on June 17 during which he allowed five runs (four earned) on five hits and three walks with three strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings

Bielak is 1-0 with a 3.38 ERA over two career appearances (one start) against the Rockies. On April 21, 2021, at Colorado, he allowed two runs on four hits and one walk with two strikeouts over two innings of relief but did not factor into the decision of a 6-3 loss

Left-hander Kyle Freeland (4-8, 4.88 ERA) is the scheduled starter for Colorado on Tuesday. He was tagged for six runs on four hits and a career-high-tying five walks with seven strikeouts over five innings on Wednesday, but he did not factor into the decision of a 9-8 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Freeland is winless over his past eight starts, with an 0-4 record, a 7.15 ERA and a .932 opponents’ OPS. He has allowed seven home runs over 39 innings during that span.

Freeland will make his second career start against the Astros. He absorbed the loss on Aug. 17, 2020, after allowing two runs on seven hits with five strikeouts over six innings in a 2-1 road defeat. Freeland is 8-8 with a 4.04 ERA over 23 career interleague starts

The Rockies are occupying the opposite end of the spectrum from Houston. With their 14-9 home loss to the Detroit Tigers on Sunday, they fell 20 games under .500 and have lost 13 of 17

“Our group is fine,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “We’ll go down to Houston and we’ll compete hard and guys will be fresh and ready to go. I know they’ll be in a good frame of mind because that’s what this group does.

–Field Level Media

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