GAME NIGHT: Texas Rangers vs Houston Astros
When: 8:10 PM ET, Friday, May 20, 2022
Where: Minute Maid Park, Houston, Texas
The Astros entered left-arm Frember Valdez on Thursday, trailing Justin Verlander in a Houston staff pitched innings, working on at least six innings in four consecutive starts.
It was not surprising that Valdez delivered seven strong innings in the Astros’ 5-1 win over visiting Texas Rangers in the opening match of the four-match series. However, it certainly qualifies as a welcome for Astros manager Dusty Baker, who continues to allocate innings fairly for his pitchers even after playing 33 games in 34 days.
The Rangers will try to level the series when the teams meet again on Friday night.
Valdez completed seven frames, enabling Baker to use only two relievers in the series opener: right-handers Hector Neris and Ryan Presley, who each struck out three batters in a perfect innings. This allowed Baker to move away from two high-leverage relievers who had pitched in the series final against the Boston Red Sox the night before.
“We (Rafael) were trying to stay away from Montero and (Rhine) Stanek because they pitched (Wednesday). And Blake Taylor,” Baker said. “So if Frember had just six runs, I would have had to use someone I was trying to stay away from.”
Right-handed Christian Xavier (2-1, 3.20 ERA) has a starting assignment for the Astros on Friday. He took the loss in his previous outing after allowing the Washington Nationals a 13-6 thrashing on Saturday, allowing seven runs and three walks in eight innings, including five strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings.
Xavier allowed just two runs and six walks in 11 hits from his previous six appearances (two starts). April 27 was the first start of his season against Texas, when Xavier’s 4-3 street win allowed four hits in five innings with four hits and two runs with two walks.
He is 4-0 with a 2.95 ERA in nine career appearances (five starts) against Texas.
Left-arm Martin Perez (2-2, 2.01) is the starter scheduled for Friday Rangers. He is fourth in the American League and sixth among the majors in the ERA and still has seven starts and has not allowed home runs in 40 1/3 innings.
Perez has logged at least six innings in each of his outings, 2-0 with a 0.84 ERA in his last five starts. He won against the Red Sox on Sunday, when he dropped five runs and one run on two walks, including seven strikeouts in six innings.
Perez ages 8-5 with a 2.89 ERA and 15 career starts against the Astros, the lowest ERA of his life against any AL opponent. Eight wins against any team is his most.
Perez retired 18 batsmen in a row to make his debut against Houston on 28 April but did not take the decision seriously. He ended the game 3-2 with four strikeouts in seven innings and four strikes in the Rangers losing 3-2.
Like his rivals with Houston, several of Rangers manager Chris Woodward’s reliever was scheduled for a one-day vacation on Thursday, a list that included Matt Moore. However, the left-arm pitching wound up and Martin surrendered a three-run double to Maldonado in the eighth inning with two outs and two strikes.
The results weren’t in the Rangers’ favor, but Rocky helped save a Texas bullpen in desperate need of relief by making a maximum of six innings and 96 pitches in a right-handed Glenn Auto career.
“We needed it,” Woodward said. “It will give us a chance to settle down for the next three games and give those guys a blow there.”
Stats and Records
|5/19/22||TEX 1||HOU 5||.188||0||.454||.323||0||.867|