Houston Astros outfielder Carlos Lee ranks among NL leaders in home runs and RBIs. Teammate Lance Berkman isn’t far behind in either category. Lately, though, the Astros’ run production has been coming from an unlikely source.
Lee is batting .302 with 23 home runs, and ranks second in the NL with 83 RBIs. Berkman, meanwhile, is hitting .344 with 22 homers, 76 RBIs and a league-leading 85 runs scored.
Next to those two, Blum’s numbers don’t really stand out. The switch-hitting reserve is batting .232 with nine homers and 28 RBIs in 68 games, including 39 starts. However, three of those home runs have come in the Astros’ last two games, and Blum is 6-for-12 with eight RBIs in his last four contests.
After hitting two home runs in Houston’s 11-6 win over Milwaukee on Sunday, Blum delivered a go-ahead two-run homer in the third inning as Houston (49-56) beat Cincinnati 5-4 on Monday night. He credits an adjustment in his swing for his recent surge.
“I saw some things I was doing with my hands that are a little different than I’m doing now,” Blum said. “Kind of went back and tried it a little bit and it’s obviously working out.”
Blum’s homer overshadowed Adam Dunn’s 30th of the year - a grand slam that briefly gave the Reds (50-57) the lead after falling behind 3-0 in the first inning. It was the second grand slam in five games for Dunn, a Houston native who’s batting .375 (21-for-56) with four homers and 17 RBIs in his last 16 games at Minute Maid Park.
The Reds, though, have lost all three meetings with the Astros this season and seven straight dating to May 31, 2007. It’s their longest losing streak against Houston since a 12-game skid from July 31, 2004-April 15, 2005.
The Reds, also losers of four in a row overall, hope to get back on track as Bronson Arroyo (9-7, 5.60 ERA) tries to extend the longest win streak of his career. After giving up a career-high 10 runs in one inning of a road loss to Toronto on June 24, the right-hander has posted a 3.09 ERA while winning a career-high five consecutive starts. He held San Diego to three runs in seven innings of a 9-5 victory Wednesday.
“(Arroyo’s) confidence is high right now,” Reds manager Dusty Baker told the team’s official Web site. “We’re playing well behind him. It’s a real positive and real plus when he’s on the mound.”
Arroyo is 4-4 with a 6.14 ERA in 17 career games - 11 starts - against Houston. He has given up eight runs in each of his last two starts against the Astros, including a 9-3 loss April 23 in his only previous meeting this season. Berkman is 10-for-31 (.323) with four homers lifetime against Arroyo.
The Astros will turn to Brian Moehler (5-4, 4.45), who’s coming off his shortest start since he was moved into the rotation in early May. The right-hander had posted a 3.72 ERA as a starter before giving up six runs in 2 1-3 innings of Houston’s 8-7 loss to Pittsburgh on Wednesday.
Moehler is 0-4 with an 8.10 ERA in five career starts against the Reds, and has a 6.82 ERA in eight total games.
Dunn is 3-for-10 with a homer, two doubles and three walks lifetime against Moehler.