In recording his sixth consecutive quality start, Astros left-hander Framber Valdez on Tuesday did what he has done for Houston throughout the first two months of this season: eat innings.
Valdez logged at least seven innings for a third consecutive start in the Astros’ 7-3 victory over the visiting Cleveland Guardians, a win that set up a rubber match of the three-game series on Wednesday.
Valdez worked his way out of trouble, a change from seasons past when adversity derailed him.
“Just seeing some of the work I’ve done with my psychologist Andy Nunez (has paid dividends),” Valdez said. “Just trying to stay calm, just breathe, working on things like that. Maybe if I’m anxious or upset, just try to stay calm and get back into the game.”
Right-hander Cristian Javier (2-2, 2.87 ERA) will start the series finale for the Astros on Wednesday.
He took the loss on Friday despite allowing one run on three hits and one walk, with a career-high-tying nine strikeouts over six innings in a 3-0 setback to the Texas Rangers. Javier is 0-2 with a 5.68 ERA over his last three appearances (two starts). He won his first two starts of the season, defeating the Rangers and Seattle Mariners after joining the rotation.
Javier has made two career scoreless relief appearances against the Guardians with two hits and one walk allowed, including four strikeouts in 2 2/3 innings.
Right-hander Cal Quantrill (1-2, 3.48 ERA) has the starting assignment for Cleveland on Wednesday.
Quantrill is winless over his last six starts, going 0-2 with a 3.47 ERA in that span with the Guardians losing five of those starts. Quantrill has not earned a victory since his season debut. He did log a quality start in his last outing, allowing one run on five hits with five strikeouts over seven innings in the Guardians’ 4-2 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday.
Quantrill has yet to record a decision over three career appearances (one start) against the Astros. He has a 4.70 ERA while allowing four runs on nine hits and one walk over 7 2/3 innings.
In Tuesday’s defeat, Guardians third baseman Jose Ramirez produced another individual performance worthy of lauding. Ramirez, who entered Tuesday leading the majors with 41 RBIs and fourth with a .985 OPS, finished 2-for-4 with a double and a home run. It marked his 11th multi-hit game of the season and eighth with at least two extra-base hits. He upped his OPS to 1.012.
It was the first Ramirez plate appearance that left an indelible impression. With two outs in the first inning, Ramirez quickly fell into an 0-2 hole against Valdez that included a foul ball on the second pitch. He proceeded to foul off seven pitches before driving the 12th pitch of the at-bat 388 feet to left field for his 11th home run.
Ramirez delivered an incredible, and memorable, display of plate discipline and patience.
“You know what? That was incredible,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “That was as good an at-bat as you’re ever going to see.”
–Field Level Media