• Brian L. Barefield

Brantley’s bat and Javier’s arm helps the Astros bounce back with a 2-1 victory over the Rangers.

Earlier this season, Astros manager Dusty Baker called his All-Star left fielder Michael Brantley a “Professional Hitter.” On Tuesday night Brantley held true to that title by blasting a two-run homerun over the right field wall which proved to be all the runs the Astros (20-15) would need as they defeated the Texas Rangers (13-22) 2-1 at Minute Maid Park. It was Brantley’s second homerun in as many games against the Rangers having hit a three-run shot the night before.

Brantley has been on fire in this series with the aforementioned two homeruns to go along with six RBI. He stated that he is starting to feel healthier as the season goes on and wants to do whatever it takes to help the Astros win.

One day after a blown save, a balk, and two errors in the ninth and tenth innings cost them a home game against the Rangers, Houston used another strong outing by starting pitcher Cristian Javier (4-1) to keep the bats of the Texas hitters at bay. Before allowing his first and only run of the game in the fourth inning off of a solo homerun by Isaiah Kiner-Falefa, the 23-year old RHP retired the first 10 batters he faced. Javier went 6 2/3 innings, his longest game of the season, allowing only one other hit in the game.

Dusty Baker was very proud of his young rookie for the way he endured through some fatigue issues late in the game. In the seventh inning, Baker along with catcher Martin Maldonado had a mound visit with Javier to determine how much gas he had left in the tank.

Photo Credit/Houston Astros

“I looked at Maldy and then I looked into his eyes [Javier] because the eyes usually tells if a guy is done or not and I asked him in Spanish, ‘Hey man do you have some more left?’” said Baker. “He says, ‘Yes I am fine.’ So, I looked at Maldy and he said, ‘I’ll direct him. Let’s get these next guys out.’”

Javier has looked great since the bad outing he had in Colorado where he gave up a career-high seven hits and two homeruns to the Rockies in just 3 2/3 innings. Since then he has only given up a combined five hits in his last two starts and is gaining the respect of his manager in the process. Baker talked about the pitcher’s maturity and how he has embraced the opportunity given to him this season on the Major League level. Javier echoed those sentiments in his post-game press conference.

“It feels really good to have that vote of confidence from my manager and it feels really good to have this opportunity,” Javier said.

Houston will close out the series and its homestand on Thursday before heading out on a crucial West Coast trip against the Los Angeles Angels and Oakland A’s.

Photo Credit/Houston Astros

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