Houston third baseman Alex Bregman was the first to acknowledge that the Astros' 4-1 win at Oakland on Sunday provided a welcome respite from their five-game losing skid, yet there remains work ahead in terms of reaching goals immediate and long term.
The Astros stretched their lead over the Athletics to 7 1/2 games in the American League West with the victory and set the table for what could be a significant 10-game homestand, which opens Monday against the Detroit Tigers.
Houston was rolling just one week ago, carrying an eight-game win streak into its finale at Baltimore before losing in walk-off fashion to open a week that featured six losses in eight games on the back of an overworked bullpen.
In salvaging the finale of a four-game series against Oakland, the Astros turned the tide, at least temporarily. Given their place in the standings and the challenge that comes with this part of the schedule, one win soothes.
"Not an easy trip for us," Astros manager AJ Hinch said. "We played three series in three different time zones. No excuses, but it was nice to finish this (road trip) with a win and get a happy flight."
Left-hander Wade Miley (11-4, 3.11 ERA) will open the homestand Monday for Houston against the Tigers. He is 5-0 with a 2.84 ERA over his last 10 starts despite struggling in a no-decision at the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday. He allowed season highs in hits (nine) and runs (seven, though only three were earned) while working a season-low 3 1/3 innings and matching his season low with one strikeout in a 13-9 loss.
Miley is 1-0 with a 6.48 ERA over five career starts against the Tigers. He allowed four earned runs over six innings in an 11-4 victory at Detroit on May 14, snapping his streak of 24 consecutive starts surrendering three earned runs or fewer dating back to Sept. 29, 2017, when he was with the Tampa Bay Rays.
Right-hander Edwin Jackson (3-5, 8.62 ERA) will make his third appearance for the Tigers on Monday. He is 2-0 with a 2.38 ERA over two starts since joining Detroit from Toronto, recording eight strikeouts while allowing three home runs over 11 1/3 innings. This marks the second stint with Detroit for Jackson, who went 13-9 with a 3.62 ERA over 33 starts to earn his only All-Star nod in 2009.
Jackson is 2-2 with a 4.09 ERA over 10 career appearances (nine starts) against the Astros, having last faced them on Aug. 28, 2018 while with Oakland. In that game, he allowed three runs (two earned) on four hits and two walks with four strikeouts over 4 2/3 innings in a 4-3 Athletics road victory.
The Tigers suffered their second walk-off loss in as many games Sunday, falling 5-4 to the Rays. Detroit is 9-27 since the All-Star break, winning consecutive games only once.
Mustering a competitive effort daily is the foremost challenge facing the Tigers, and they did so during the series with Tampa Bay. Starters Daniel Norris, Jordan Zimmermann and Matthew Boyd combined to allow one run on four hits and four walks with 17 strikeouts over 15 innings. Their collective effort wasn't enough for Detroit to claim the series, but it showed their collective fight.
"We competed with a team that's in a playoff race," Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire told MLB.com. "We were in that atmosphere, which was great."
--Field Level Media
Skid snapped, Astros open homestand vs. Tigers