Houston right-hander Cristian Javier will attempt to record his sixth win in as many starts on Friday when the visiting Astros open a three-game series against the Cleveland Guardians.
Javier (7-1, 2.84 ERA) has allowed just six runs on 19 hits over his past five starts (29 innings). He yielded one run on six hits in six innings during Houston's 9-6 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday.
The Astros followed that win by losing four of their next five games. They have mustered just five runs during their current three-game skid and saw star Yordan Alvarez aggravate an oblique injury on his final swing in the batting cage before exiting after his lone at-bat in Houston's 3-2 setback to the host Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday.
"We've just got to regroup and try figure out how we're going to win some ballgames and get through this," Astros manager Dusty Baker said.
Alvarez had reached base safely in 19 straight games before bouncing out to first base in the first inning. He was replaced in the lineup by Corey Julks.
Javier, 26, is 1-1 with a 0.63 ERA in four career games (two starts) against Cleveland. He permitted one run on 11 hits and two walks while striking out 17 batters in 14 1/3 innings during those games.
Javier would be wise to pitch carefully to Jose Ramirez, who answered a 3-for-25 slump to begin June by belting three homers in a game for the first time in his career during the Guardians' 10-3 romp over the Boston Red Sox on Thursday.
"He shows up every day," teammate Steven Kwan told Bally Sports Cleveland of Ramirez. "He has the ability to literally win a game for the whole team. Three home runs, that (defensive) play at third that prevented a big inning. He's our superstar for a reason."
Cleveland's Josh Naylor is batting a robust .552 (16-for-29) with 11 RBIs and nine runs during his career-high, eight-game hitting streak.
Will Brennan and Andres Gimenez each had two hits and drove in two runs on Thursday for the Guardians. The former is batting .485 (16-for-33) with seven RBIs since May 30, while the latter is hitting .371 (13-for-35) with seven RBIs in the same timeframe.
Rookie left-hander Logan Allen (3-2, 2.76 ERA) will take the mound for Cleveland on Friday.
Allen, 24, has turned in two strong outings to emerge victorious in his past two trips to the mound. He scattered three hits and struck out a season-best 10 batters over seven innings in a 5-0 win at Baltimore on May 29 before allowing two runs in six frames during a 4-2 victory at Minnesota on Saturday.
"He competes like crazy," Guardians manager Terry Francona said of Allen, who hasn't permitted more than three earned runs in any of his eight starts this season. "All the things, he's got poise. If he walks somebody, he reels it right back in. He doesn't let anything bother him."
Allen has yet to pitch against the Astros in his young career.
--Field Level Media