The hottest team in baseball will have to deal with one of the major leagues’ hottest hitters over the next four days in Detroit.
The Houston Astros’ pitching staff will try to slow down Jonathan Schoop, who has blasted 10 homers and seven doubles this month while batting .372 (29-for-78).
Schoop supplied two homers and six RBIs in the Tigers’ two-game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday and Wednesday. The series against the Astros, who have won 10 straight, begins on Thursday.
“It’s nice to see him be such a good contributor for us and come up with big swings,” Tigers manager AJ Hinch said. “His presence in our lineup when it rolls around, it’s just different, right? We know he’s capable of doing just anything. I think all of us want Jonathan up at bat as much as possible.”
Schoop got off to a slow start and was batting .197 with two homers in mid-May. He has raised his season average to .280 and is up to 15 home runs.
“In the beginning, I was trying too hard,” Schoop said. “(Now) I feel really good and I’m trying to keep it up.”
Jose Urena will start the series opener for the Tigers. Urena (2-7, 5.79 ERA) has been roughed up since a 10-day stint on the injured list caused by a forearm strain. He has lost all three of his June starts, posting a 13.91 ERA during that span. The right-hander walked more batters (eight) than he struck out (six) in those outings.
In his most recent start on Friday, Urena surrendered seven runs on seven hits — including three home runs — in 4 1/3 innings against the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim, Calif. Detroit wound up losing 11-3.
“They put some really good swings on him,” Hinch said afterward. “They beat us in every facet. It wasn’t just all Jose Urena. I know he gave up some damage there, especially that last inning. He just hasn’t been executing at the same rate that he was prior to his injury, so it was obviously a frustrating night for him.”
Urena didn’t fare any better in his most recent home outing, getting knocked out in the second inning after giving up eight runs (seven earned) to the Chicago White Sox on June 12. He lost his only career start against Houston, yielding three runs (one earned) in 5 2/3 innings on May 17, 2017.
He will be opposed Thursday by Houston right-hander Luis Garcia (5-4, 2.82 ERA), who has delivered quality starts in four of his past five outings. Garcia held the White Sox to one run in seven innings while striking out eight in a no-decision on Friday.
The 24-year-old rookie has not allowed more than three earned runs in any of his 14 outings, including 12 starts, this season. He held the Tigers scoreless in a 4 1/3-inning relief appearance on April 12.
The Astros haven’t given up more than three runs in their past seven games.
On Wednesday, in a 13-0 win in Baltimore, Houston pounded out 17 hits, including two more for Michael Brantley, who leads the majors with a .356 average.
Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel drove in a run, giving him a team-high 51 RBIs this season.
Houston manager Dusty Baker said of Gurriel, “A lot of guys don’t have a game plan and they’re up there swinging. You’ve got to have a game plan to drive in runs and you’ve got to be ready to hit. … The best pitch to drive in runs a lot of times is the first pitch. Don’t let them get ahead of you. He has a plan.”
–Field Level Media