Astros at Rays
Steven Souza Jr. is off to the best start of his career and the outfielder has been a major reason why the Tampa Bay Rays boast eight wins in 10 home games while batting .432 at Tropicana Field with 11 of his 15 RBIs. Souza looks to continue leading the way when the Rays host the surging Houston Astros on Friday night in the opener of a three-game series.
Souza is 8-for-17 with seven RBIs in the last four contests to raise his average to .349 and helped the Rays complete a three-game sweep of Detroit on Thursday with three hits and three RBIs in an 8-1 victory. “I’m just trying to play free. … I can overthink things and put a lot of pressure on myself, and throughout the years I think that’s what I’ve done," Souza told reporters. Houston edged the Los Angeles Angels 2-1 on Thursday for its seventh win in eight games and has taken over first place in the American League West. Veteran Carlos Beltran belted his first homer of the season in the victory for the Astros and knocked in his sixth run after sitting out one day earlier.
TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, ROOT Plus (Houston), FSN Sun (Tampa Bay)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Astros RH Mike Fiers (0-1, 5.40 ERA) vs. Rays RH Alex Cobb (1-1, 4.50)
Fiers struggled April 12 when he allowed five runs on six hits, including a pair of homers, over four innings of a no-decision in a 10-5 victory at Seattle. The 31-year-old Florida native, who posted a career-high 11 wins in 2016, took the loss in his season debut versus Kansas City despite yielding one earned run over six innings. Logan Morrison (5-for-10) and Evan Longoria (2-for-5, one homer) have had success versus Fiers, who is 1-0 with a 3.38 ERA in two career starts against Tampa Bay - both last season.
Cobb has not been as good in his last two starts after a solid debut in which he limited the New York Yankees to one run over 5 2/3 innings in a 4-1 triumph. The 29-year-old Boston native, who has surrendered at least one homer in each of his three starts and four overall, gave up nine runs (eight earned) over 12 1/3 innings his last two outings. Brian McCann is 6-for-12 with two homers against Cobb, who beat Houston in their only meeting in 2014 - allowing one run and striking out 11 over 6 1/3 innings.
1. Houston SS Carlos Correa, off to a slow start while batting .224 with three RBIs, went 5-for-11 with a homer against the Rays last year.
2. Tampa Bay CF Kevin Kiermaier is 10-for-20 with eight runs scored, a pair of doubles, three walks and a homer during a five-game hitting streak.
3. The Astros placed RHP Jandel Gustave on the 10-game disabled list Thursday and recalled RHP James Hoyt from Triple-A Fresno.