Fri, 29 Sep 2023

Skidding Astros aim to end Guardians' winning run

Field Level Media
10 Jun 2023, 21:40 GMT+10

The Houston Astros are exploring their options without designated hitter Yordan Alvarez, who landed on the 10-day injured list due to a right oblique injury on Friday.

The Astros will look to regroup when they continue a three-game series against the host Cleveland Guardians on Saturday.

Yainer Diaz started at DH in place of Alvarez on Friday, when the Astros fell 10-9 to the Guardians in 14 innings. Cleveland won the contest on run-scoring doubles by Tyler Freeman and Will Brennan in the final frame as Houston squandered a lead for the fifth time on the night.

"It's a marathon," Brennan said. "Who knew that game would've gone 14 innings. Usually those last about until the 10th or 11th. So it's really important that we kept our minds in it and stuck around and battled. That's what we do."

Cleveland has won three straight, while Houston has dropped a season-high four consecutive games.

The Astros will be hard-pressed to replace Alvarez, who was batting .272 with 17 home runs and a major-league-high 55 RBIs in 57 games.

"Guys just have to pick it up," Houston manager Dusty Baker said. "We still have some horses here. We have some guys who come to play. We've just got to tighten our game up. We might have to change our philosophy some since we don't have that big bat to hit the ball out of the ballpark, but we'll find a way."

Diaz, normally a backup catcher, went 1-for-3 with a walk and an RBI on Friday. Another catcher, Cesar Salazar, also could get additional at-bats in Alvarez's absence.

Houston will send right-hander J.P. France (1-1, 3.44 ERA) to the mound on Saturday. The 28-year-old rookie received a no-decision after allowing three hits over seven innings of one-run ball against the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday. He had a no-hitter for the first 5 1/3 innings of that contest.

France has settled into the Houston rotation with a 29-to-9 strikeout-to-walk ratio over his first six career starts covering 34 innings. He will be facing the Guardians for the first time.

"I don't think you can ever really get comfortable because once you start to get comfortable, that's when bad stuff tends to happen," France said. "But once I'm on the field, it kind of feels like home."

Cleveland will counter with right-hander Triston McKenzie (0-0, 0.00), who is hoping to build on a successful season debut. He returned after being out with a teres major muscle strain and allowed just one hit and one walk while striking out 10 over five scoreless innings against the Minnesota Twins on Sunday.

"I thought that was more than you could expect," Guardians manager Terry Francona said. "I mean, he worked so hard and he was diligent in everything. But then you get into a major league game and it's different. But to see him come out, use all of his pitches, have his fastball have some life through the zone -- that flew past encouraging."

Jose Altuve is 3-for-7 with two homers against McKenzie, who is 2-1 with a 2.84 ERA in three career starts vs. Houston.

Cleveland's offense has picked up over the past week with Josh Naylor leading the charge. The first baseman is 18-for-36 (.500) with 13 RBIs and 11 runs during his career-high, nine-game hitting streak.

Guardians third baseman Jose Ramirez is also on a hot streak, going 6-for-9 with four homers, a double and six RBIs in the past two games.

--Field Level Media

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