Less than 24 hours after Lance McCullers Jr. threw six scoreless innings against the Athletics, Cristian Javier did exactly the same on Sunday afternoon to help the Astros beat the Athletics 6-3 to complete the three-game sweep. Javier was offensively backed up by red-hot Alex Bregman and José Altuve.
Javier was in total control on Sunday. Over his six innings pitched, the A’s only got a hit off him and drew three walks. The young right-hander also struck out six hitters and won for the first time since July 1, besides lowering his ERA to 2.96.
Ironically, Javier received atypical good run support since the first inning as the Astros scored four of their six runs between the first two innings – Alex Bregman hit a two-run jack in the first for his 16th bomb of the season and José Altuve registered a two-run double in the second. In his previous six outings, Houston averaged 1.8 runs per game, a mark that didn’t help Javier at all.
The 25-year-old has been lights out in August, hurling 18 innings of 11 hits, three earned runs, four walks, and 15 punchouts. His ERA in those three starts –against Red Sox, Guardians, and Athletics— is at 1.50.
Offensively, Bregman has something else to add besides his first-inning homer. In the seventh, he launched his 27th double to bring Jeremy Peña home with the Astros’ sixth and final run of the game for them.
The Astros’ third baseman has just crushed opposing pitchers in his last 50 games. Over that span, Bregman has posted a .311/.408/.550 with a .958 OPS, thanks to 56 hits across 180 at-bats. His great performance includes 13 doubles, 10 four-baggers, 36 ribbies, 35 runs, 28 walks, and only 25 strikeouts.
The Athletics reacted after Javier was gone. In the final third of the game, they scored thrice against Will Smith and Rafael Montero, but Ryan Pressly got the last two outs to pick the save (23) and end the contest.
Now, the Astros are going to Chicago to begin a pretty interesting four-game series against the White Sox from Monday to Thursday. On Monday, José Urquidy will continue the six-man rotation facing veteran Johnny Cueto.