Rookie pitchers to battle as Astros host Indians

MLB Baseball

Houston slugger Yordan Alvarez is central to the Astros reaching their offensive potential, and his recent slump highlighted his importance to what the club aims to accomplish this season.

In the Astros’ 4-3 home victory over the Cleveland Indians on Monday, Alvarez produced his first multi-hit game since slugging a pair of home runs among his three hits against the Oakland Athletics on July 6.

On Monday, Alvarez finished 2-for-3 with a walk, a double and his 17th homer, a two-run shot into the upper deck in right field in the fifth inning. It extended the Astros’ lead to 4-1.

Alvarez had been 2-for-30 with 15 strikeouts since his two-homer game. In that span, he had no extra base hits and no RBIs.

Houston manager Dusty Baker said hitting coach Alex Cintron worked extensively to unlock what ailed Alvarez at the plate, although Alvarez was reluctant to disclose any concerns over his extended futility offensively.

“I felt calm about it,” Alvarez said. “I wasn’t exactly how I wanted to be in the box, but that’s baseball, and I made my adjustments.

“I don’t think I’m going crazy with any adjustments trying to get outside of myself. I know what I’m capable of doing.”

Rookie right-hander Luis Garcia (6-5, 3.06 ERA) will start for the Astros on Tuesday. It will mark his 18th appearance and 16th start of the season.

Garcia is 6-3 with a 3.07 ERA since joining the rotation on April 29. He has surrendered a .639 OPS during that span while recording 83 strikeouts over 70 1/3 innings, and the Astros are 8-5 in those 13 starts.

Tuesday will mark his first career appearance against the Indians.

Rookie right-hander Triston McKenzie (1-3, 5.47 ERA) will make his 13th appearance and 12th start for the Indians on Tuesday.

McKenzie is winless over his last six starts, going 0-2 with a 5.96 ERA despite allowing an impressive .148/.292/.295 slash line during that stretch. He has walked 18 batters in just 25 2/3 innings during his winless streak.

McKenzie produced his best start in his most recent outing, allowing just one hit and one walk while striking out nine over seven scoreless innings against the Kansas City Royals on July 9. He did not factor into the decision in the Indians’ 2-1 win. It will be McKenzie’s first career appearance against Houston.

After claiming the rubber match of a white-knuckle series in Oakland over the weekend, the Indians were at it again in the series opener against the Astros.

Designated hitter Franmil Reyes homered in the fourth inning to pull Cleveland even at 1-1, and he added an RBI single in the sixth that sliced the deficit to 4-2. In the eighth inning, the Indians made things interesting.

Cleveland sent six batters to the plate while drawing to within a run, but they fell just short when Astros reliever Ryne Stanek got a called third strike against Bradley Zimmer to end the rally.

“We’re going to give our best on the field,” Reyes said. “We’re showing it. We’re battling hard.”

–Field Level Media

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