May 10, 2023; Anaheim, California, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Cristian Javier (53) throws against the Los Angeles Angels during the fourth inning at Angel Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Javier strikes out 11 in Astros’ 5-4 win over Angels
After dropping three straight series, the Astros clinched a much-needed series victory against an AL West opponent after holding off the Angels 5-4 on Wednesday afternoon. The win moves the Astros back over .500 and gets them within a half game of the Angels for second place in the division, 3.5 games back of the Rangers. Cristian Javier followed up Framber Valdez’s great start on Tuesday by holding the Angels to two runs over six innings with a season-high 11 strikeouts. Jeremy Peña finished 2-for-4 and capped a four-run fourth inning with a two-run single.
Replay review helps the Astros to a big fourth inning
Yordan Alvarez gave the Astros a 1-0 lead when he homered in the first inning, but Hunter Renfroe’s two-run shot in the second put the Angels on top. The Angels took a 2-1 lead into the fourth, but the lead evaporated before the end of the Astros’ half of the inning.
Kyle Tucker singled with one-out, and advanced to third with some heads-up base running on Corey Julks’ infield single. The Astros tied the game on a sacrifice fly by Yainer Diaz, and the next four batters reached base, leading to three more runs.
Julks advanced to third after an errant pickoff throw from Angels pitcher Griffin Canning, and David Hensley walked to give the Astros runners at the corners. It looked like Canning had gotten out of the inning when the first base umpire’s initial call said Jake Meyers was thrown out by Anthony Rendon on a soft bouncer to third, but the Astros challenged the call at first and won. As a result, Julks scored on the infield single to give the Astros a lead. Canning’s day ended after he hit Martín Maldonado with a pitch, and with the bases loaded Jeremy Peña singled home a pair off of Angels reliever Jimmy Herget.
Cristian Javier nearly unhittable
Before allowing the second inning home run to Renfroe, Javier struck out the side in the first. He allowed three hits in the second inning, getting Gio Urshela to ground into a double play to end the frame, and did not allow another hit the rest of the afternoon, allowing just a Renfroe walk in his final four innings of work.
Not only did Javier start his day by striking out the side in the first, but he finished it by striking out the side in the sixth on his way to a season-high 11 strikeouts. Javier generated 24 swinging strikes, 18 on his fastball that averaged 93 MPH and topped out at 94.1 MPH. The top three in the Angels lineup – Taylor Ward, Mike Trout, and Shohei Ohtani – combined to bat 0-for-9 with seven strikeouts against him. The Astros right-hander improved his record to 3-1 on the season, while lowering his ERA to 3.47.
Hector Neris worked around a one-out walk in the seventh by inducing a double play from Brandon Drury, and Bryan Abreu worked around a one-out single to keep the Angels off the board in the eighth. Ryan Pressly allowed a two-run homer to Ohtani and then allowed the winning run to reach base in the ninth, but he recovered to strikeout Drury, get Matt Thais to pop out, and induce a ground ball from Urshela for his sixth save of the season and second in as many games.
News and Notes:
•Alvarez finished 1-for-4, extending his on-base streak to 31 games, the longest in franchise history to start a season. Going back to last season, Alvarez has reached base in 35 straight games.
•Mike Trout is now 0-for-9 with 7 strikeouts in his career against Javier.
•Yainer Diaz started at first base for the first time in his Major League career.
•Astros manager Dusty Baker told reporters in Anaheim that outfielder Michael Brantley left the team to undergo tests on his surgically repaired shoulder.
•Baker said outfielder Chas McCormick is dealing with the same back soreness that landed him on the IL for almost three weeks.
•Baker said he doesn’t believe the hamstring injury that forced Mauricio Dubón out of Tuesday’s game is serious.
The Astros will open a three-game series in Chicago against the White Sox on Friday night with J.P. France (0-0) getting the start opposite Michael Kopech (1-3).