MLB Game Preview - Tampa Bay at Houston
Wed Aug 28, 2019 8:10 PM EDT

STL
1
MIL
4
F
NYY
7
SEA
3
F
PIT
3
PHI
12
F
BAL
4
WAS
8
F
ATL
9
TOR
4
F
CIN
5
MIA
0
F
CHC
10
NYM
7
F
CLE
4
DET
2
F
TB
6
HOU
8
F
MIN
8
CHW
2
F
OAK
4
KC
6
F
BOS
7
COL
4
F
LAD
6
SD
4
F(10)
TEX
3
LAA
0
F
Alvarez, Astros hope to keep hammering Rays
Wed Aug 28, 2019 12:24 PM

Houston Astros rookie Yordan Alvarez showcased enough raw power to the pull side over his first 59 games that few invested too much thought on the possibility of him slugging the opposite way to left field.

However, when Alvarez bashed his 20th home run on the season Tuesday in the opener of a three-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays, the ball traveling a modest 329 feet to the Crawford Boxes in left, it opened up a world of possibility for both Alvarez and the Astros.

Later in the Astros' 15-1 victory, Alvarez pulled his 21st long ball of the year, and he will look to add to that total as the series continues Wednesday.

Alvarez entered the series with a batted-ball pull percentage of 42.7 percent, above the league average of 36.4 percent. Most of the damage Alvarez has wrought this season has been to right field, including a 474-foot shot that serves as the longest home run hit by an Astros player in 2019.

His blast to left off Rays right-hander Andrew Kittredge in the fifth inning served notice of his approach when right field isn't available.

"If he starts doing that on some pitches when they backdoor him or if he wants to commit to hitting the ball the other way in certain situations, that's a dangerous hitter getting even more dangerous using the smallest part of the ballpark and being that productive," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said.

Houston right-hander Gerrit Cole (15-5, 2.75 ERA) will start the middle game of the three-game set Wednesday.

The American League Pitcher of the Month for June and July, Cole enters his final start of August 3-0 with a 1.35 ERA and 0.600 WHIP this month. He is 11-0 with a 1.84 ERA over his past 15 starts, having last lost May 22 against the Chicago White Sox.

Cole is 0-2 with a 2.84 ERA over three career starts against the Rays, including a 4-1 loss on March 29 when he allowed four runs (one earned) on five hits with 10 strikeouts over six innings in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Left-hander Ryan Yarbrough (11-3, 3.29) gets the starting nod for the Rays. He is 6-0 with a 1.48 ERA over his past 12 appearances (four starts), surrendering a .465 OPS with 59 strikeouts against just four walks over 61 innings.

Yarbrough has started each of his past three outings, going 1-0 with a 0.47 ERA, 23 strikeouts and no walks over 19 1/3 innings. Yarbrough has made one appearance against the Astros previously, saddled with a 1-0 loss in relief on June 28, 2018, after allowing one run on seven hits and one walk with four strikeouts over 6 1/3 innings.

The Rays are hopeful that Gold Glove center fielder Kevin Kiermaier will return to the lineup Wednesday.

Kiermaier sustained a rib injury Sunday in Baltimore, and he sat out Tuesday, with the Rays asking right fielder Avisail Garcia to slide over and fill the void.

Entering Tuesday, Garcia had logged just four games (three starts) in center for Tampa Bay.

"I don't think it's a thing he's done a ton, but he's totally comfortable doing it," Rays manager Kevin Cash said of Garcia manning center. "This is a pretty unique outfield (in Houston). It's a big outfield that's got some gaps that are unique, a unique stadium. But he's played so good defensively wherever we've asked him. I feel totally comfortable with him."

Garcia would up recording an outfield assist in the Tuesday defeat.

--Field Level Media

Team Record Comparison

Team Standings GB W-L Aw/Hm Stk L10
Tampa Bay            
Houston            

Scheduled Starting Pitchers

Ryan Yarbrough - TB
Matchup
Season
vs. Opp Has not pitched vs. Houston
Gerrit Cole - NYY
Matchup
Season
vs. Opp Has not pitched vs. Tampa Bay

Hot Batters (Last 10 team games)

Injury Report