On Friday night, the Astros couldn’t hit with men on bases and Framber Valdez was hit hard by the Rays as the Astros lost 7-3. After a historic streak of 25 quality starts, Valdez has given up 20 hits and 10 earned runs over his last two outings (10.2 IP), which could be a sign of he’s running out of gas.
The game was a low-scoring one during the first four innings. In fact, the Astros were up in the score by the end of the fourth, thanks to Alex Bregman’s 23rd home run and Yuli Gurriel’s RBI single. The Rays ambushed Valdez in the fifth and sixth, though.
In the top fifth, Randy Arozarena hit a game-tying triple and Wander Franco recorded a go-ahead single to make it 3-2. An inning later, former Astro José Sirí doubled home a run and Yandy Díaz got a two-run double of his own to leave things 6-2 and put his team an inch closer to clinching a playoff berth, something they did after the 27th out on Friday.
Framber, who took the loss (16-6), allowed nine hits and six earned runs over 5 1/3 innings with three walks and two strikeouts. He’s 3 2/3 innings shy of reaching the 200-inning mark for the first time in his career and just made it to 30 starts, another season-high for the southpaw.
In his last two trips to the mound, Valdez has surrendered just as many earned runs (10 in 10.2 IP) as in his previous six starts (10 in 43.2 IP).
With five games to go before the end of the regular season, the Astros must decide whether to use Framber in his next scheduled start or to give him a well-deserved rest to start the postseason.
But even though Framber didn’t look sharp, you can’t hide the Astros didn’t back him up offensively. They were 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position and José Altuve, Kyle Tucker, and Trey Mancini –three key men at the plate— finished the night 0-for-12 combined.
On Saturday, both teams will play the second contest of the three-game series. Cristian Javier –who didn’t allow a run across his last three starts— will try to stay hot as he faces also lefty Shane McClanahan, who is 12-7 with a 2.51 ERA.