The Houston Astros didn’t take advantage of a seven-game homestand. They will try to regain their footing during a six-game road swing.
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The Astros, who lost five of the seven games, all at their own ballpark, will commence a weekend series against the host Detroit Tigers on Friday night.
The Boston Red Sox blew out Houston 17-1 on Thursday afternoon to gain a split of a four-game series. The margin of defeat matched the largest in Astros history.
“They were just hot,” Houston manager Dusty Baker said. “The bats were hot and they can hit, and then when the hits start coming, it’s hard to stop it.”
The Astros will hope Framber Valdez, their Friday starter, can spark a turnaround.
In his past three outings, Framber Valdez hasn’t come close to recreating the magic of the no-hitter he threw on Aug. 1. Following that gem against the Cleveland Guardians, Valdez has allowed 16 runs, 15 earned, and five home runs while going 0-2 with a 6.86 ERA in three starts.
Valdez (9-9, 3.55 ERA) has allowed at least four runs in six of his past seven starts, the lone exception being the no-hitter. During his latest outing, on Saturday against the Seattle Mariners, he surrendered six runs and 10 hits in five innings.
“Trash,” he said after that start. “I thought it was a bad outing for me. After the no hitter, I’ve been trying to pitch the exact same way I did that game. Been trying to execute my pitches, and I haven’t been doing that.”
Valdez hit Jose Caballero with a pitch in the fifth inning, which turned into a benches-clearing incident.
“Caballero reacted a little bit crazy there,” Valdez said. “It was a bad pitch, I hit him by mistake, it wasn’t intentional. Obviously, hit by pitches happen in a game. He reacted a little bit aggressively, so I reacted as well. It’s part of the game.”
In his second start this year, Valdez delivered a quality outing against the Tigers but still took a loss. He gave up three runs, two earned, and struck out nine in seven innings.
On Friday, he will face the pitcher who outdueled him that day.
Matt Manning (5-4, 4.31 ERA) has overcome a rough patch and produced two straight solid outings. He limited Boston to one unearned run over 5 1/3 innings on Aug. 12, then held Cleveland to two runs (one earned) in six innings on Saturday.
Manning, who was the winning pitcher in both games, had yielded 19 runs, 17 earned, in his previous three outings.
He settled in against the Guardians after serving up a first-inning homer to Kole Calhoun.
“I kind of fought myself for the first couple of innings,” Manning said. “Once I had that quick third inning, I got into a little bit of a rhythm and got my legs back in my delivery. After that, I was able to step on the gas and was in attack mode.”
Manning posted his first win of the season against the Astros, holding them to two runs in 5 2/3 innings on April 4.
The Tigers had Thursday off after losing two of three to the Chicago Cubs at the start of a 10-game homestand. Detroit lost 6-4 on Wednesday, partially due to free passes. The Cubs drew three walks, and all three were part of run-scoring rallies.
“Just about every run was scored when there was a walk involved,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “They found some holes, but they found the holes because the lineup kept moving with the walks. That was frustrating. We extended some innings that gave them opportunities.”
—Field Level Media