Astros look to sweep Lone Star State rival Rangers

(AP Photo/Richard Carson)

(AP) -- With so much at stake for the title-contending Astros, almost every game seems to feature the dual significance of winning the moment while peering into and considering future implications.

Sunday's series finale against the Texas Rangers offers the Astros an opportunity at a three-game home sweep following their 6-1 win Saturday at Minute Maid Park.

In theory, those chances were enhanced by the pitching performance produced by rookie right-hander Jose Urquidy, who recorded his first career victory by allowing only two hits over seven sparkling innings.

The narrative following the Astros home from their eight-game road trip was how they would manage a starting rotation ravaged by injury and ineffectiveness at the back end.

With Urquidy pitching as effectively as he did for as long as he did, the Astros were able to complete the win without using their high-leverage relievers. That sets the stage for right-handers Will Harris, Josh James, Ryan Pressly and Roberto Osuna to be available in the event rookie right-hander Rogelio Armenteros struggles to work as deeply into his first start as Urquidy did in his third.

"We absolutely needed it," Astros manager AJ Hinch said of Urquidy's performance. "We needed him to go as long as he could, and for him to be effective in that, it's a great day."

Armenteros (0-0, 2.00 ERA) has made three appearances out of the bullpen for Houston this season, the last coming July 16 against the Los Angeles Angels, when he worked four innings and allowed one unearned run on two hits and one walk with three strikeouts.

Armenteros has logged nine innings overall and surrendered eight hits and two walks with nine strikeouts. He is 4-6 with a 5.05 ERA over 14 games (13 starts) with Triple-A Round Rock.

Right-hander Lance Lynn (12-5, 3.87 ERA) gets the start for Texas, which is seeking to avert the sweep and snap a six-game losing skid.

Lynn is tied for the major league lead in victories and ranks among American League leaders in a number of categories. He is 4-1 with a 3.09 ERA over his last five starts, with that lone defeat coming in his previous outing when he allowed five earned runs on eight hits and one walk with six strikeouts over six innings in a 9-2 setback to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Lynn is 5-2 with a 1.90 ERA over nine career appearances (eight starts) against the Astros, including a 1-1 mark and 1.93 ERA in two starts this season.

"Him and (left-hander) Mike (Minor) are pretty much our stoppers, so we are going to need Lance to stop the bleeding right now," Rangers manager Chris Woodward said of Lynn.

"I actually might talk to them (Sunday) just to tell them, 'We need to stay together.' That is probably the biggest thing I could tell them. We all know that we need to improve. The players all know what's going on. They need to play better. We need to hit better. We need to execute our pitches better. We need to play better defense at times. That goes without saying. We will address those things."

--Field Level Media

Updated July 21, 2019