Left-hander Framber Valdez hopes to avenge one of the Houston Astros’ most embarrassing moments of the 2019 season when he starts the second game of his team’s American League West showdown series with the host Oakland Athletics on Saturday afternoon.
The A’s will counter with right-hander Frankie Montas as they go for an eighth straight win and second in two days over the Astros in the three-game series.
Valdez (0-1, 2.53 ERA) and Montas (1-1, 2.25) have some big shoes to fill after the performances of starters Zack Greinke and Chris Bassitt in the series opener, a game the A’s won 3-2 in 13 innings.
Greinke shut out the A’s for six innings. Bassitt allowed one run in seven.
Bassitt was aided by the fact that the Astros were without star outfielder George Springer, the team leader in RBIs (12) and co-leader in home runs (three).
Springer suffered a sprained right wrist making a diving catch in center field Thursday in Arizona. He underwent an MRI exam on Friday — it was negative — but he remains questionable for the remainder of the series.
“He’s better,” Astros manager Dusty Baker gladly reported to the media before the game. “It’s good news. Nothing’s broken. That’s a very positive sign.”
The last time Valdez saw the A’s, it was at the end of a 21-7 thumping Oakland laid on the Astros in Houston last September.
The 26-year-old was the best of the Astros’ five pitchers that day, allowing two runs in four innings.
Matt Olson and Sean Murphy belted two homers apiece for the A’s in that game, while Khris Davis and Marcus Semien connected once each. Valdez didn’t allow any of the homers.
Springer batted twice and homered both times for the Astros.
Valdez has faced the A’s twice in his career, both times in relief, and is 0-0 with a 3.60 ERA.
He has never pitched in Oakland.
Montas split decisions with the Astros last April, winning one pitchers’ duel 2-1 and losing another 3-2. He’s gone 2-2 with a 4.74 ERA in six games (four starts) in his career against Houston.
Montas will be making his AL-leading fourth start of the season in a game that’s scheduled to start about 14 hours after Friday’s marathon ended.
A masked A’s manager Bob Melvin looked exhausted afterward.
“You just have to keep your fight up,” he told reporters of an extra-inning affair in which the teams five times stranded a potential game-winning runner at third base in the 10th, 11th and 12th innings. “It’s frustrating for a while. You just have to keep your head up and realize you still have a chance to win a game. And that’s what happened.”
Oakland’s winning run came with two outs and capped a two-run response to Houston having gone ahead 2-1 in the top of the 13th.
The A’s finished the game 3-for-19 with runners in scoring position. The Astros went 3-for-17.
The game featured 24 strikeouts, including 10 by six Houston relievers.
–Field Level Media