For a few innings, it looked like the Astros’ decision to use Josh James as an Opener and Framber Valdez as a Headliner might pay off. The Astros jumped out to an early lead in the first without any hits, with Alex Bregman, Yordan Álvarez, Yuli Gurriel, and Josh Reddick all working two-out walks (and with a wild pitch thrown in for good measure).
Things somehow got worse for Angels starter Griffin Canning in the second; after a lead-off strikeout, it went: walk, single (runner to third), wild pitch (run scored), walk (wild pitch, runner advances to third), RBI single (runner to third). That was it for him, and despite being an actual starter, he only got one more out than James did as the opener, where he picked up one K in a one-two-three inning.
Meanwhile, it all started off well enough for Framber when he came into the game with that 3-0 lead, with a scoreless second and even two punch outs (although he did have to work around a single and a walk). The third looked like it might go the same way, with the Astros putting two on in the top on an HBP and a single, but ultimately stranding them. Meanwhile, Andrelton Simmons hit a solo home run in the bottom half, but that was the only non-out of the inning.
Things really started to go bad in the fourth, though. The Astros went down in order; meanwhile, Justin Upton and Albert Pujols both doubled, and both wound up scoring to tie things up. The fifth saw the Astros put up a goose egg despite two back-to-back singles at the start and a walk (after a double play, though).
Meanwhile, the full Framber experience was unleashed in the bottom half of the inning, with the Angels putting up a four-spot on three walks, a double, a single, a throwing error (charged to Valdez himself), and two RBI groundouts. He finished out the inning, but the Astros would never recover from that point. Framber’s final line wound up being 4.0 innings, 4 walks, 4 strikeouts, 6 hits, and 7 runs allowed (only 4 earned, though).
The Astros would pick up three more runs in the final four innings on a pair of George Springer homers, but it wouldn’t be enough. And continuing the theme of missed opportunities, two runners were stranded in the seventh, and Yuli’s leadoff single in the ninth went wasted. Meanwhile, Collin McHugh allowed two more in the seventh after Kevan Smith doubled in Upton and Pujols after their back-to-back leadoff singles.
Overall, this was a very sloppy game for both teams. Ten pitchers combined for 13 walks (9 for the Angels, 4 for Valdez), a hit batter, five wild pitches (4 for Canning), and a throwing error, plus there was another error and a passed ball charged to the Astros.
And while most of that was on the Angels’ staff, their lineup also outhit (10 to 9) and outslugged (18 total bases to 15) the Astros’ to make up the difference, with a little bit of better sequencing to top it all off. George Springer wound up with the best night overall for Houston, going 3-5 with those two homers, but everything outside of Springer’s dingers was a single. Yuli and Tony Kemp had a pair each, and Yordan and Bregman had one apiece.
The Astros will try and bounce back tomorrow at 9 PM CST in game two of this series against Andrew Heaney. No starter has been named yet for Houston. On the year, the Astros are now 59-36, 5.5 games ahead of the A’s in the AL West.