May 16, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Cristian Javier (53) pitches against the Chicago Cubs in the first inning at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Houston Astros cruise past Cubs 7-3 behind offensive explosion, Javier’s outing
The Houston Astros jumped on the Chicago Cubs in the fourth inning and never looked back as starting pitcher Cristian Javier shined in Tuesday’s 7-3 victory at Minute Maid Park.
With the victory, Houston (23-19) secured the series win against the Cubs. The Astros have now won six of their last seven games. Here are some takeaways:
Second baseman Mauricio Dubón started things off with a leadoff ground-rule double in the first inning. Third baseman Alex Bregman flew out to left field, which allowed Dubón to tag and advance to third.
A wild pitch from Cubs starter Justin Steele allowed Dubón to score from third to plate the game’s first run, but Houston could not add to its 1-0 first-inning lead. Chicago tied the game in the second inning on a Matt Mervis solo home run.
The heart of Houston’s order jumped on Steele in the fourth inning. Steele hit Bregman with a pitch, and designated hitter Yordan Álvarez doubled to center field to bring Bregman home and give Houston a 2-1 lead.
Right fielder Kyle Tucker followed Álvarez with a double of his own to left field, which drove in Álvarez and made it 3-1 in favor of the Astros.
The Astros were not done yet. With two outs, left fielder Corey Julks hit another double to score Tucker.
Center fielder Chas McCormick capped off Houston’s game-changing fourth inning with a line-drive RBI double to right, sending Julks home. When it was all said and done, the Astros held a 5-1 lead after four doubles in the inning.
Houston added two more insurance runs to extend its lead to 7-1 in the seventh inning. Once again, it was a double that sparked the Astros’ rally – this time by Mauricio Dubón.
Dubón’s two-base hit moved catcher Martín Maldonado to third base after the Astros catcher had walked. Bregman brought Maldonado home with a sacrifice fly, and Álvarez singled on a line drive to right field to score Dubón.
‘El Reptil’ trumps Cubs
Cristian Javier was cold-blooded against the Cubs on Tuesday. The native of the Dominican Republic put together a quality start, pitching six innings and allowing just one earned run.
Javier gave up just two hits against Chicago, and he struck out five while notching his fourth win of the season. The righty also lowered his ERA from 3.47 to 3.25 in the victory.
Relievers Phil Maton and Matt Gage combined to pitch the game’s final three innings for the Astros. Maton pitched in the seventh and Gage pitched in the eighth and ninth.
Maton struck out two batters and allowed just one hit. Gage also struck out two, but gave up a two-run home run to Seiya Suzuki in the ninth.
McCormick made an identical play to his iconic World Series catch against the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday versus the Cubs. The center fielder snatched a would-be hit from Chicago’s Dansby Swanson, saving a likely run for the Cubs in the sixth inning.
News and Notes
• Steele’s five runs allowed against the Astros were the most he has given up this season.
• The Astros have won three straight series.
• Houston had six doubles on Tuesday.
• Right-handed pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. threw a 37-pitch bullpen session on Tuesday, according to Chandler Rome of The Athletic. McCullers could face hitters as early as this weekend in live batting practice. The righty has been dealing with an elbow strain since spring training.
• José Altuve continued his rehab assignment on Tuesday, but this time for the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks. Altuve played three games for the Sugar Land Space Cowboys over the weekend and went 1-for-13 at the plate. The Space Cowboys traveled to Oklahoma City on Tuesday, while the Hooks played in Corpus Christi.
The Astros finish their three-game series with the Chicago Cubs at Minute Maid Park on Wednesday. J.P. France (1-0, 0.77 ERA) is expected to be on the mound for the Astros. He will face off against Drew Smyly (4-1, 3.05 ERA) for Chicago.