Framber Valdez just doesn’t stop delivering dominant performances every fifth day for the Astros. Sunday wasn’t the exception as he combined with a ruthless 20-hit offense to defeat the Twins 14-3 and end the road trip on a high note.
After Alex Bregman hit a sacrifice fly to crack the scoreboard in the first inning, Valdez got into a pitching duel with Michael Pineda, which lasted three innings. In the top fourth, the Astros’ lineup began destroying Pineda’s pitches and building their way to an easy victory.
It all started with four runs between innings four and five, thanks to Kyle Tucker’s two-run home run, another sac fly by Yuli Gurriel, and an RBI double from Carlos Correa’s bat to make it 5-0 in the fifth with a dominant Valdez on the mound.
The Astros, who were 7-for-20 with RISP, rallied with eight total runs in the sixth, seventh, and eighth. The highlights were a two-run double from Brantley —who had three doubles and his second four-hit game in the last three days—, Yordan Álvarez’s ninth home run of the year (with Brantley aboard), and a Chas McCormick solo shot in the top eighth.
Houston got 10 extra-base hits (three home runs and seven doubles) and recorded 20 hits in a game for the fifth time since 2015.
Regarding Valdez, whose record is now 3-0 with a 1.42 ERA, he completed his third consecutive outing of at least seven innings. This time, he surrendered five hits and two runs (one earned), with three walks, two strikeouts, and a home run.
For the left-handed, it was his sixth start in a row of no more than one earned run, a streak that has been achieved by an Astros’ pitcher only five times since the 2000 season — Andy Pettitte (8), Wandy Rodríguez (7), Roy Oswalt (7), Justin Verlander (6), and Valdez.
Valdez was followed by Ralph Garza Jr. with two innings of two-hit, one-run ball. He was the man in charge of sealing the Astros’ victory to win their fourth series in a row. The team will have an off-day on Monday and will return to action on Tuesday, when it begins a two-game series against the Texas Rangers at Minute Maid Park, where they have a .606 winning percentage.