|3:10 PM PT4:10 PM MT5:10 PM CT6:10 PM ET18:10 ET22:10 GMT6:10 3:10 PM MST5:10 PM EST5:40 PM VEN2:10 UAE (+1)4:10 PM CT, March 30, 2019
Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida Attendance: 16,010
Short-handed 'Stros turn to former reliever against Rays
Houston Astros at Tampa Bay Rays
- The Rays are 32-21 (.604) all-time against the Astros, their best record against any current AL team.
- Blake Snell went 21-5 with a 1.89 ERA last season, allowing just 112 hits in 180.2 innings. The 112 hits were the fewest ever allowed in a 20-win season in MLB history, besting the previous record of 139 by Clayton Kershaw in 2014.
- The Rays had just four players hit 10+ home runs for the team last season (tied with Detroit for the fewest in MLB), and only one of those four players is still with the team (Willy Adames).
- Justin Verlander continues to be baseball's foremost workhorse pitcher, as last year marked the eighth time in his career he led the AL in total pitches thrown. Since pitches were first tracked beginning in 1988, no other pitcher has led his league (AL or NL) in pitches more than four times (Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson and Barry Zito are second with four each).
- Alex Bregman posted a .553 on-base percentage in last year's playoffs, the fifth best all-time in a single postseason (minimum 35 PA) behind Manny Ramirez in 2008 (.667), Barry Bonds in 2002 (.581), Jon Jay in 2014 (.571) and Rickey Henderson in 1989 (.568).
- George Springer's 24 career leadoff homers are tied with Hanley Ramirez (2005-09) for the most all-time in a player's first five seasons in the majors.
- Astros edge Red Sox but Springer injured
- Twins hit 3 more HRs for 9th win in 10
- A's put Davis on IL, win 7th straight
- Phils overcome Yelich's MLB-best 20th HR
- Yankees' Paxton still nursing sore knee
The Astros long to avoid another protracted stretch of games with All-Star shortstop Carlos Correa performing at less than optimal health, a thought process that informed the decision to sit Correa in the opening two games of this season with another day of rest set for Saturday.
Correa, who battled back injuries while producing career-worst numbers across the board last season, suffered a neck strain during the final week of spring training and has been sidelined ever since. The Astros are aiming for Correa to return to the starting lineup on Sunday in the finale of the season-opening four-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla.
"Today is the best I've felt ever since the injury happened," Correa said on Friday prior to the Astros' 4-2 loss. "Great progress. I'm really close to being back out there. I'm very excited."
Injuries have prevented Correa from reaching his full potential. Correa played a total of 219 games over the past two seasons and has posted 600-plus plate appearances only once (2016). His replacement thus far, utility infielder Aledmys Diaz, is 0-for-7 with four strikeouts and committed a critical error in the third inning on Friday that resulted in three unearned runs.
Still, the Astros won't rush Correa, not after he labored through a bad back for most of 2018. A decision regarding his preparedness won't be made until after Correa undergoes a full workout.
"I will wait a day too long rather than a day too short," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said.
Right-hander Collin McHugh will make his season debut for the Astros on Saturday. He rejoins the rotation after spending the entirety of last season working out of the bullpen, finishing 6-2 with a 1.99 ERA over 58 appearances. He will make his first start since Oct. 1, 2017 at Boston.
McHugh is 1-4 with a 2.12 ERA over seven career appearances (five starts) against the Rays, with 34 strikeouts in 34 innings. He was 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA over two relief outings last season.
Right-hander Tyler Glasnow will work opposite McHugh for the Rays. He was acquired by Tampa Bay in the blockbuster trade that sent former ace Chris Archer to the Pittsburgh Pirates last July 31. A fifth-round pick in the 2011 draft, Glasnow went 1-5 with a 4.20 ERA over 11 starts with the Rays following the trade, recording 64 strikeouts over 55 2/3 innings while also surrendering 19 walks. Saturday will mark his first career appearance against the Astros.
Like his counterpart with the Astros, Rays manager Kevin Cash is making a concerted effort to utilize his full roster in the early stages of the season. Hinch had right fielder Josh Reddick, catcher Max Stassi and designated hitter Tony Kemp in the lineup on Friday, none of whom got the start in the series opener. Cash is taking a similar approach with his primary reserves.
"Look, everybody gets out of spring fairly fresh, and sometimes you can catch yourself three weeks in or a month in where you have not utilized anybody from your bench, and that spring training becomes wasted for them," Cash told MLB.com. "We're going to make sure that everybody stays fresh and playing and helping us win games as one unit."
--Field Level Media
Updated March 30, 2019