Astros look to wrap up series win vs. Rangers

MLB

Framber Valdez seems to have regained at least some of the strong form he displayed to open this season. He was unhittable the last time he faced the Texas Rangers.

The left-hander looks to build on one of his best outings of the season and help the visiting Houston Astros to a fourth straight victory on Saturday night against the Rangers in Arlington, Texas.

Valdez (8-4, 2.94 ERA) went 5-1 with a 2.18 ERA in his first seven starts of 2021, then was 2-2 with a 4.64 ERA and 22 walks over his next six. However, Valdez seems to have regrouped since that rather rough stretch, posting a 1.83 ERA with six total walks while going 1-1 over his past three outings.

He was simply stellar against the Seattle Mariners on Sunday, yielding three hits with a walk and striking out six over seven scoreless innings in the Astros’ 6-3 victory. He ended up with a no-decision.

“I’ve made the adjustments I needed to make to get to where I wanted to be,” Valdez said. “I’m going to keep working and making small adjustments when necessary and keep having the kind of results I want to when I’m out there.”

Since the start of last season, Valdez is 2-0 with a 1.86 ERA over three starts versus Texas. On July 24, he matched a season-high six walks against the Rangers, but did not allow a hit over 99 pitches in lasting six scoreless innings of a 4-1 home victory.

“If we’d left him out there to get the no-hitter, he’d be up to 140 pitchers,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said at the time. “You’ve got to think logically, what’s best for him.”

Two of Valdez’s walks against the Rangers were issued to Andy Ibanez, who is batting .488 with two home runs and six RBIs during an 11-game hitting streak. Teammate Isiah Kiner-Falefa is batting .366 while hitting safely in nine straight.

Each had a pair of hits Friday for the Rangers, who blew a 4-0 lead to lose 5-4 in the series opener. The defeat was Texas’ third straight overall and 17th in 22 contests and also ended the Rangers’ six-game home winning streak vs. Houston.

Though the teams are at the opposite ends of the AL West standings, the Rangers are still playing hard.

“Continue to stay positive, continue to work and get better,” said infielder Nick Solak, who is 8-for-21 (.381) in his past five games.

Scheduled Rangers starter Kolby Allard (3-10, 4.86 ERA) was roughed up when he started at Houston on July 23, allowing a three-run homer to Kyle Tucker, four other runs and seven hits over four innings of a 7-3 defeat.

The left-hander, though, has lasted at least six innings in each of his past four starts, and he is 1-1 with a 3.70 ERA in that span.

Houston’s Yuri Gurriel and Michael Brantley are a combined 5-for-15 with a homer each against Allard. With three hits Friday, Brantley is 7-for-19 (.368) with three RBIs in four games at Texas this season.

Gurriel, whose RBI fielder’s choice capped Houston’s five-run seventh inning Friday, is 12-for-29 (.414) in his past seven contests.

–Field Level Media

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