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2021 Houston Astros: Home Opener Series Preview

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The 2021 Houston Astros are off to one of the hottest starts in recent years. The Astros opened the season on the road in Oakland and managed to sweep the Athletics in a four-game series. After a quick two-game series in Anaheim to face the Los Angeles Angels, the Astros return home to their beloved Minute Maid Park and the fans they have not seen since Game 7 of the 2019 World Series.

2021 Houston Astros vs Oakland Athletics Preview

Game One: Thursday, April 8th at 7:10 PM CDT

Cristian Javier (0-1, 4.91 ERA) vs. Cole Irvin (0-0, 8.31 ERA)

Cristian Javier looked good in his last start against the Athletics, going 3.2 innings with four strikeouts. Innings will be something that Astros will keep an eye on with Javier as he develops his craft as a young pitcher.

Opposing Javier will be the Athletics’ own Cole Irvin. Irvin struggled in his last outing against these Astros, going 4.1 innings, with two strikeouts, one walk, and seven hits.

Game Two: Friday, April 9th at 7:10 PM CDT

Lance McCullers Jr. (1-0, 1.80 ERA) vs. Sean Manaea (0-1, 9.64 ERA)

Lance McCullers Jr. looked phenomenal in his very outing of 2021 against the Athletics in Oakland. After signing his five-year, $85 million contract extension, McCullers Jr. is ready to step in and be a leader in this rotation, and he proved that in his last outing. Going only five innings, McCullers Jr. struck out seven while only giving up one earned run.

For the Athletics, Sean Manaea is hoping to hit the reset button. In his last outing against the Astros, Manaea gave up five runs in 4.2 innings of work to get the loss. Kyle Tucker and Jason Castro got the Astros on the board early by hitting solo home runs in their first at-bats against Manaea.

Game Three: Saturday, April 10th at 3.05 PM CDT

Jose Urquidy (0-0, 4.15 ERA) vs. Frankie Montas (0-1, 23.63 ERA)

Jose Urquidy will get the ball in the final game of this three-game series against the Athletics. In his first outing of the season, Urquidy managed to go 4.1 innings, with five strikeouts and only two walks in his no-decision outing. The Astros are hoping Urquidy can get close to pitching at least 200 innings this season.

Frankie Montas is hoping to have a better outing than his last one against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Montas only went 2.2 innings but managed to give up seven runs on seven hits while striking out four. For the first time this season, Montas will be facing an Astros team that is red hot at the plate with no signs of slowing down.

News And Notes

It has come as no surprise that the 2021 Houston Astros have embraced negativity’s noise during their first road trip of 2021. The Astros have outscored their opponents 45-18 in six games thus far with no signs of slowing down as they enter the first homestand of the season.

Yuli Gurriel has been a dominating force at the plate as he is second on the team with a .409 batting average and 1.127 OPS in twenty-two plate appearances. Alex Bregman has come out swinging since opening day. Known to start the season off slow, Bregman put in the work this offseason, and it has shown. Bregman is second on the team in home runs with two, along with a batting average of .429 and a 1.240 OPS in twenty-one plate appearances. Kyle Tucker has been swinging a hot bat as he leads the team with three home runs.

Michael Brantley continues to progress as he recovers from a wrist injury that took him out of the series’s final two games against Oakland. Brantley was hit-by-pitch in his first at-bat on April 3rd. Manager Dusty Baker said the team would not rush Brantley back into the lineup.

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main image credit Embed from Getty Images

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Jeff "Rip" Griffin is a current MLB writer covering the Houston Astros. Rip is also the host of The Rip Griffin Show on Apple Podcasts. Rip holds a Bachelors of Science in Kinesiology, focusing in Sports Management from the University of Houston - Victoria.