Jarred Cosart (6-5, 4.16) vs David Price (5-6, 3.93)
Team in a slump? David Price on the bump? Jarred Cosart says, "No problem." The last time that Cosart pitched in Tampa Bay, it was his Major League debut on July 12 of last year, and he beat Price with a near no-hitter. The last time he faced this Rays team, it was the last game the Astros won, at MMP six days ago. So Jarred Cosart, with some help from the dancing duo of George Springer and Jonathan Villar, is officially your Astros slump buster. Astros beat David Price and the Rays, 3-1, snapping the losing streak at 4 and getting back to .500 in June at 9-9. They're now 33-42 overall.
On the Mound:
*During the June 13-18 cycle through the rotation, Jarred Cosart was the only Astros starter to last more than 5 innings (7 IP on 6/14), and that was the only game in that stretch the Astros won. Collin McHugh gave the bullpen a bit of relief last night, going 6 innings in the loss, but Cosart's outing tonight was just what the doctor ordered: 8 IP / 6 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 1 BB / 2 K, and he out-dueled David Price in the effort. Those 8 innings also tied for the longest start of Cosart's career - matching his debut here in Tampa back on 7/12/13.
*Chad Qualls got the call in a save situation tonight, and for the second night in a row, a Jonathan Villar fielding error led to an unearned Rays run. But they only got one tonight, and Qualls struck out two while allowing two singles, earning his 9th save.
At the Plate:
*What inspired Springer and Villar in their dugout dance last night? We may never know, but tonight it inspired their bats. George Springer came through in the 3rd with a 2-run home run to the concourse in left field, tying Chris Carter again for the team lead at 13. Gerorge finished 1x4 with 2 K.
*Jonathan Villar hit five home runs in the first month+ of the season, but it had been crickets since then. But in the 9th inning tonight, for the first time since May 4, Villar rediscovered his power stroke, knocking a solo homer to right center to give the Astros some insurance. Villar finished 1x4, and besides his error, he added at least one spectacular barehanded grab for an out in the 7th.
*It is difficult to overstate just how good Jose Altuve has been this season, and especially of late. Tonight he only went 3x5 again, with a run scored, and he's 11x18 (.611) in four games since returning from a bruised hand. Still leading the Majors, now with 101 hits.
*Jason Castro doubled once and struck out the other three times, finishing 1x4 tonight.
*Jesus Guzman was tonight's left fielder du jour, and ended up 1x3 with a K.
*Dexter Fowler was hitless at 0x3 with 2 K, but also walked twice. Jonathan Singleton (0x3, 2 K) and Matt Dominguez (0x3, K) also each worked a walk.
David Price struck out Dexter Fowler to start the 3rd, but Jose Altuve followed with his second single of the game on a 2-2 change. One pitch later, George Springer sent a souvenir over all the empty seats in left field, giving the Astros a 2-0 lead and providing Jarred Cosart with all the support he would need.
Man of the Match:
Jarred Cosart. Even with his 4/18 disaster start, his ERA is now down to 3.78. Exclude that one start, and it drops all the way to 3.08.
Goat of the Game:
Chris Carter. 0x4 again as the DH, with one K. He hasn't had a hit since a single on June 13, and is 0x19 since then.