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Cristian Javier pitches Astros to Game 1 win of doubleheader, 6-3

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First inning offensive bombast enough for win in 7-inning first game of twin bill

Los Angeles Angels v Houston Astros Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Coming into his start on Tuesday afternoon, Cristian Javier had been virtually unhittable at Minute Maid Park. In two prior appearances in the Space City, the right-hander for the Houston Astros had given up a combined three hits and one run over 11.1 innings against the Dodgers and Mariners. Facing a floundering Angels club, he dominated early before tiring in his final two frames, but his offense gave him plenty of room for error.

Javier retired the first eight batters and took a no-hitter into the fifth inning en route to earning his third win of the season as the Astros cruised to a 6-3 victory in the opening act of a doubleheader at Minute Maid Park. The twinbill was made necessary due to the impending arrival of Hurricane Laura, forcing the Astros to postpone Wednesday and Thursday’s scheduled home games against the Angels.

Houston’s bats erupted immediately out of the chute, plating five runs on five hits against Angels starter Jose Suarez in the bottom of the first. After Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa picked up back-to-back singles with one out, Yuli Gurriel hit a slow dribbler halfway down the third base line. Suarez picked the ball up and made an ill-advised throw to first base that ended up down the right-field line, enabling both Altuve and Correa to score. A walk and an out later, Josh Reddick singled home Gurriel for the third run. After Martin Maldonado drew a free pass to load the bases, nine-hole hitter Jack Mayfield stepped in and smoked a two-run single to left, capping the onslaught. In just Mayfield’s 13th at-bat of the season, he picked up his first runs batted in since a two-run homer last Sept. 26 against coincidentally - the Angels.

The Astros’ success against Suarez was a sharp contrast to the penultimate game of the regular season in 2019, when the Angels’ southpaw took a two-hit shutout into the sixth inning against Houston before allowing a pair of runs. Suarez was removed after issuing consecutive walks to begin the second, but Halos reliever Jaime Barria did a nice job to keep the game from getting too far out of control the rest of the way. Barria allowed just a run and a hit in five strong innings. The tally came courtesy of Gurriel, who doubled to the gap in left-center with two outs in the fourth, plating Altuve for a 6-0 lead.

Javier allowed just one walk through four innings before issuing a leadoff free pass in the fifth. After an out, former Astro catcher Jason Castro singled home Shohei Ohtani to break up the no-hitter and shutout. Brian Goodwin doubled in Castro with two outs, and Tommy La Stella led off the sixth inning by sneaking a ball just over the wall and into the Crawford Boxes in left for a leadoff homer. Javier retired the next two hitters before giving way to Blake Taylor to finish off the sixth.

Ryan Pressly allowed a leadoff single in the seventh but recorded the next three outs without trouble, setting a new career-high with his fourth save of the season.

The second game of the doubleheader is scheduled to begin around 6:10 p.m. CT. Brandon Bielak (3-1, 4.37) will make his fifth start of his rookie year with the Astros while the struggling Julio Teheran (0-2, 10.38) gets the ball for the Angels.