The Houston Astros have answered a season-high 11-game winning streak with losses in five of their past six games.
Now, the Astros will aim to snap a four-game skid on Thursday night when they play the opener of a four-game series against the host Cleveland Indians.
Houston’s offense has sputtered of late, as the team mustered just 22 hits — including only two for extra bases — in its three-game sweep at the hands of the American League-worst Baltimore Orioles. The West-leading Astros have just two home runs in their past six contests.
“The offense, the guys are — you hate the word fatigued — but they’re fatigued,” Houston manager Dusty Baker said following Wednesday’s 5-2 setback to Baltimore. “It seems like we’re just a hair off, a bit late.”
Cleveland recorded season highs in runs, hits (19) and doubles (six) in Monday’s 13-5 victory over the Detroit Tigers. Mother Nature, however, forced a postponement the following day, and the Indians were unable to carry that momentum in a doubleheader sweep at the hands of the Tigers on Wednesday.
Jose Ramirez hit one of Cleveland’s four solo homers in a 9-4 setback in the opener. The third baseman, however, suffered a facial contusion after fouling a ball off his left cheek and required a trip to a local hospital as a result.
Ramirez didn’t stay long, however. He returned to the dugout and even attempted to make himself available to play in the nightcap.
“He’s unbelievable,” Indians manager Terry Francona said of Ramirez. “He went over to Lutheran (Hospital) and got checked out, and they said he was fine — which we thought, but we just needed to get him checked out. He got back about halfway through the (second) game and he said, ‘I’m ready to go in.’ … Kid’s unbelievable.”
Ramirez didn’t get in the game, however, and Cleveland’s offense mustered just one run on three hits.
The Indians will look to get their offense back on track against Houston left-hander Framber Valdez (4-1, 2.11 ERA), who will get the nod on Thursday. Valdez is looking to rebound after seeing his four-start winning streak end in his last outing.
Valdez, 27, allowed three runs on six hits in six innings of a 3-1 setback at Detroit on Saturday. He didn’t lament the performance — just one pitch that resulted in a two-run homer by Zack Short in the fifth inning.
“I felt good out there,” Valdez said. “I thought my only mistake was hanging the one pitch to (Short). I was good other than that.”
Valdez won his lone career appearance against Cleveland after permitting one hit and striking out two in two innings of relief on April 28, 2019.
Indians rookie right-hander J.C. Mejia (1-2, 4.94) will supply the opposition on Thursday, two days after his initially scheduled start against Detroit was postponed.
Mejia, 24, will make his ninth career appearance and sixth start in the series opener. It will mark his first career appearance against the Astros.
–Field Level Media