• Brian L. Barefield

Starting Over: Astros stay hot at home defeating the Angels to open 10-game homestand

Photo Credit/Houston Astros

One day after losing another heartbreaker in San Diego. The Houston Astros (16-13) bounced back to take game 1 of the four-game series against the Los Angeles Angels (9-21) at Minute Maid Park. Super phenom outfielder Kyle Tucker second inning 404-ft homerun got the Astros hit parade started and they never looked back after that.

Houston defeated Los Angeles 11-4 with a pair of multi-run innings. The aforementioned Tucker has been hot at the plate for over a week and that didn’t stop tonight. He used some of that road magic to go 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI coming on his homer and he also walked twice.

“Whew,” Astros shortstop Carlos Correa said with excitement when asked about how hot Tucker’s bat has been. “Scorching hot. He has been swinging the bat so great and putting the work in the cage [batting] and making the adjustments for him to be successful. I love it because he was a guy who was struggling and found his way back.”

Another welcomed site for the Astros was outfielder Michael Brantley who was reinserted back into the lineup as the designated hitter for a second consecutive day. Brantley had been out of the lineup for 12 days before making his first start on Sunday. “The Professional Hitter” hit two doubles and drove in a run. He will remain the designated hitter until the training staff feels he is fully recovered and ready to return to the outfield.

Starting Astros pitcher Framber Valdez (3-2) enjoyed the run support he got from his teammates on Monday as things were looking kind of shaky for him in the middle of the game. With Houston up 5-1 in the top of the fourth inning, Valdez gave up runs in back to back innings to the Angels who came within one run after Anthony Rendon and Albert Pujols both hit RBI singles. He would settle down and wouldn’t allow any more runs retiring the next seven batters he faced and finished the night going seven innings and striking out a career high 11 batters.

“11 is my record here in the big leagues so I felt great about that,” Valdez said.

The 26-year old left-hander from the Dominican Republic kept the Los Angeles hitters off balance all night with an array of pitches, but it was his curveball that was his bread and butter pitch that got him out of a lot of jams.

Photo Credit/Houston Astros

“Framber has all the weapons,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “Before I got here, I heard he had all the weapons, He just had to get it all together and find those strikes.

"His curveball has always been good. What his curveball does is it kind of peels the banana, which is a baseball term where he's sinking away his fastball and then his curveball, he either back doors it or peels the banana on the inside part of the plate."

Houston loaded the bases in the bottom of the sixth inning and Correa cleared them with a double down the left-field line to increase the lead and Tucker would bring him home at his next at bat with a double to right field. The Astros would have celebrated such an offensive explosion in that inning, but once again adversity struck in the form of an injury.

Outfielder George Springer was removed from the game after being hit on his left elbow by pitcher Keynan Middleton. He was able to make it to first base but was later replaced by Myles Straw. Springer was diagnosed with a left elbow contusion and x-rays were negative for any further damages. He is listed as day-to-day.

Houston is back in action on Tuesday playing their first doubleheader since 2017 when Hurricane Harvey hit Greater Houston. With Tropical Storm Laura set to make landfall on Wednesday, MLB took the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of both organizations.

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