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WHAT A NIGHT! Javier strikes out 14, steals the SHO against Angels!

Cristian Javier had a memorable night against the Halos to lift the Astros once again.

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Houston Astros Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Shohei Ohtani tried to have his night at Minute Maid Park, but Cristian Javier was just too much for him and the Angels. With a spectacular outing by the young starter, the Astros topped the Halos 8-1 to win the first game of the series. Javier, who punched out 13 Yankees on Saturday’s no-hitter, set a new career-high with 14 strikeouts on Friday night.

Even though Javier allowed a solo homer to Ohtani in the first inning, what came after that home run was pure, raw dominance. In fact, that was the only hit surrendered by Javier in seven innings of one earned run, no walks, and 14 strikeouts to pick his sixth win of the season (6-3).

After throwing seven no-hit, no-run, no-walk innings on Saturday and hurling such a game this time at Houston, Javier becomes just the second pitcher since 1901 with two straight starts of at least seven innings, 10-plus strikeouts, one or fewer walks, and one or fewer hits. The other one is Max Scherzer, who did so in 2015 with the Nationals.

As if it wasn’t enough, Javier set a season-high for Houston with 23 swings and misses against the Angels. No Astros pitcher had made opponents whiff so many times since 2019! Besides, those 27 strikeouts Javier has recorded over his last two starts make him the fourth pitcher in Astros history to fan at least 27 hitters in a two-game span, along with Gerrit Cole (3), JR Richard (2), and Don Wilson.

Even though the Astros began the game down in the score 1-0 after Ohtani’s long ball, Yuli Gurriel and Jake Meyers hit two solo homers of their own in the second to put the Astros in front 2-1.

But that wasn’t it for the ‘Stros as they scored six times in the third to bury the Angels’ hopes. The third inning rally featured an RBI double by JJ Matijevic, a two-run single by Meyers, and a two-run four-bagger courtesy of Chas McCormick. The trio formed by Matijevic, Meyers, and McCormick combined to go 6-for-11 with two doubles, two dingers, and six runs batted in.

Now, the Astros have won four in a row and 12 of their last 15 games. With a 49-27 balance, they have the second-best record in baseball, only behind the Yankees (56-21).

On Saturday, both teams will collide with each other. At 3:10 pm CT, José Urquidy will try to keep his strong momentum alive as he faces left-hander Patrick Sandoval.