Albert Suárez struggles as Houston wins to complete the sweep (updated)

HOUSTON – A recent run of strong starts during an overall good season for right-hander Albert Suárez hit a speed bump in New York a few days ago. Today in Houston, it was quite a bumpy ride again for the hurler who took an ERA of 1.61 into that start at Yankee Stadium.

He allowed three runs and walked five in 3 2/3 innings in the Bronx. He was much more around the plate today, maybe in the zone too much early on as the Astros came out swinging against him.

Houston scored four runs on six hits in the last of the first this afternoon and rode that big inning to a 8-1 win behind 15 hits and a solid outing by left-hander Framber Valdez as they sweep this three-game series.

The O’s hit town riding high, coming off Thursday’s 17-5 victory and series win at Yankee Stadium. They had gone 14-6 the previous 20 games with series wins over the Rays, Braves, Phillies and Yankees but didn’t win once this weekend at Minute Maid Park.

At 49-28, they are swept for the second time this year (also May 20-22 at St. Louis) and head home to host Cleveland on Monday night.

The Orioles have lost four of six and six of their past 10 as they return to Baltimore to face the Guardians and then Texas.

With Atlanta’s 3-1 win over the New York Yankees this afternoon, the Orioles remain 1 1/2 games off the American League East lead as they end this 2-4 road trip.

Suárez gave up a homer to second baseman Jose Altuve on the first pitch of the home first and Houston kept swinging, seeing just 22 pitches as nine men batted that inning. Altuve hit No. 12 to start it, his third leadoff homer of the year and 38th of his career.

Alex Bregman followed the homer with a double to left, the first of his four hits. One out later, three straight run-scoring hits followed. A Yainer Diaz single made it 2-0. He scored on Jeremy Peña’s double, hit 107 mph off the bat to left, and Mauricio Dubón’s RBI single at 101 made it a 4-0 game.

Suárez, facing Houston for the first time in his career, gave up more hits in that first inning (six) than in six of his eight previous starts.

He got a double play in a scoreless second and stranded two in the last of the third. But with one out in the fourth, a double by Bregman put runners on second and third, and after an intentional walk, a Diaz sacrifice fly made it a 5-0 lead.

Suárez falls to 3-2 with a 2.70 ERA after going five innings on 78 pitches. His final line showed a career-high 10 hits allowed and five runs to tie his career high. He had last given up five runs in a big league game on July 20, 2016 pitching for the San Francisco Giants at Boston.

In New York, his command was his downfall. Today it was early, loud contact. In that first inning the Astros hit three balls at 101 mph or more and they added two in the fourth that were hit 102 mph or more.

The Orioles got into the scoring column against Valdez in the sixth. Texas native Jordan Westburg homered for the second time in two days. He hit No. 13 a distance of 366 feet to left to make it a 5-1 game.

Houston added on with Peña’s two-run double off Dillon Tate in the sixth. That gave him a three-RBI day and the Astros a 7-1 lead. A Diaz sac fly off Nick Vespi in the eighth completed the scoring and gave him a three-RBI day.

Houston won by a combined score of 13-2 the past two days after their wild 14-11 win on Friday night.

The last two years, facing the O’s once each season. Valdez had allowed 13 runs (10 earned) in 12 1/3 innings versus the Orioles. But he had their number today, allowing just the one run on six hits in seven innings on 104 pitches. He is now 6-5 with a 3.68 ERA.

This is the first time all year the O's had two games of scoring one run back-to-back. And it follows a two-game span when they scored 28 runs. 

Monday night at Camden Yards, lefty Cade Povich (0-1, 3.94 ERA) faces the Guardians’ righty Tanner Bibee (5-2, 3.65 ERA) at 6:35 p.m.

Final notes and postgame quotes: The Orioles were swept for the second time in 116 series. Houston completed its third sweep of the year and first over the Orioles since June 21-23, 2021. It was their first home sweep of the Orioles since April 2-4, 2018.

Gunnar Henderson went 0-for-3 but walked in the first inning. That extended his on-base streak to 30 straight games. That is the longest by an Oriole since Nick Markakis went 38 in a row during the 2009 season.

The O's will face a Cleveland team tomorrow that has won five in a row, hitting 12 homers in that span.

Manager Brandon Hyde on series loss: “Not our best. The first night was a weird one and we just got beat the last two nights by two starters throwing the ball really good. … We just didn’t take our best at-bats. Didn’t get the ball up, didn’t get the ball elevated. One of those unfortunate series. Kind of like with St. Louis. Kind of have the same feeling. We just have to bounce back and start a new series tomorrow.

“We’ve got to flush this one. Not a whole lot went right. We’ve got a real good Cleveland team coming into town. Let this one go and go get after them tomorrow.”

Hyde, is tough stretch catching up to the O's?: “I don’t think so. Thought we got beat by two good starters, honestly, the last two days. First night was flukey, weird. These last two we just didn’t have our best at-bats offensively against some starters that went deep in the game against us. And then we are facing some good Cleveland starters coming up. So, we’ve got to turn the page and get on to tomorrow.”

Hyde on Dean Kremer lasting just 2/3 of an inning allowing five runs last night at Norfolk: “He didn’t last very long. That was unfortunate. He wasn’t walking people. He was getting hit and didn’t get through the first inning, so, yeah, we need him back as soon as possible. I don’t know what we are going to do with that. Only threw 30-ish pitches (39). That’s not ideal.”

Suárez on the four-run first: “I mean, the plan was attacking the zone. I think I was just, this team is aggressive and they were swinging. I just stuck with my plan inside the zone. In that first inning, they just took advantage of that.”

Suárez, is the league adjusting to you?: “I mean, like I say, every day we have to come and make adjustments. If the league is adjusting, the way I pitch, I am doing the same. Just for me, it’s time you have to adjust and help the team to win.”

Mountcastle, is team tired?: “I think you just tip your cap to (the Astros). They had a great series. It was tough to get stuff going. But you know, we’re excited to get back home and get back on track.”

Mountcastle, team responded well after St. Louis sweep and has to do that again: “Yeah, as I said, can’t wait to get back home and try to get back on track. Lot of games left in this season. Excited for the rest of it.”

Farm note: Heston Kjestad got hit by a pitch three times today and later was ejected from the Triple-A Norfolk game today. Catcher Samuel Basallo left the Double-A Bowie game but I understand that that was not injury-related.

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