The trade deadline inspired a flurry of activity from contenders throughout baseball, with the viable American League pennant threats making multiple moves to bolster their rosters.
The Astros, whose 2-1 loss to the visiting Boston Red Sox on Tuesday kept them three games behind the New York Yankees for the best record in the AL, were among those franchises opting to acquire talent in the run-up to the deadline.
Houston and Boston will complete their three-game series Wednesday afternoon. Boston has won the first two games.
Houston traded for utility man Trey Mancini and catcher Christian Vazquez on Monday in the hours before dropping the series opener against the Red Sox and completed a trade for left-handed reliever Will Smith on Tuesday.
Mancini and Vazquez should provide depth to a roster in need of a boost offensively while Smith is the product of two teams dealing from ample depth.
The Astros have operated with a six-man rotation and are expecting right-hander Lance McCullers to join the fray in the near future, a scenario that made right-hander Jake Odorizzi expendable. The Braves, armed with four left-handers in their bullpen, sought the starting pitching depth the Astros had to offer.
Smith, who arrived in Houston in the early innings on Tuesday, is now the lone southpaw in the bullpen. In the ninth inning, Mancini and Vazquez grounded out as pinch hitters.
The ultimate goal for Houston is for all three to make a positive impact down the stretch and into the playoffs.
"Overall really excited about the additions that we have," Astros general manager James Click said. "I feel like we accomplished our primary goals for the trade deadline."
Right-hander Jose Urquidy (9-4, 3.86 ERA) will start the series finale for the Astros on Wednesday. He posted his eighth consecutive quality start in his last outing on July 28, limiting the Seattle Mariners to two runs on four hits and two walks with three strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings in the Astros' 4-2 home victory.
Urquidy is 4-1 with a 2.60 ERA during his streak of quality starts. He is 2-0 with a 4.09 ERA over two career starts against the Red Sox. He was the pitcher of record in the Astros' 13-4 victory in Boston on May 17, having allowed four runs on 12 hits with one strikeout over five innings.
Rookie right-hander Brayan Bello (0-3, 8.82) has the starting assignment as Boston pursues the series sweep. Bello, who made his major league debut on July 6, allowed two runs on four hits and three walks with four strikeouts over 4 1/3 innings of relief and was the pitcher of record in a 4-1 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on July 29.
It marked the first relief outing for Bello, who was 0-2 with a 10.50 ERA and an opponent OPS of 1.066 over his first three starts.
Bello will make his first career appearance against Houston.
The Red Sox were elated to have All-Star third baseman Rafael Devers back in their lineup. Devers, reinstated from the injured list after missing 10 games with right-hamstring inflammation, finished 2-for-4 with an RBI double plus his 23rd home run. Devers scored Tommy Pham, who played his first game with Boston after being acquired from Cincinnati, in the fourth.
"He played great defense, too," Boston manager Alex Cora said of Devers. "To have those guys in the lineup, now we do believe we are better."
--Field Level Media