Left-hander Framber Valdez looks to remain unbeaten in his career against the Guardians on Friday when the Houston Astros play the second contest of a four-game series in Cleveland.
Valdez (9-4, 2.80 ERA) owns a 3-0 record with a 2.81 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in three career appearances (two starts) against the Guardians.
The 28-year-old overcame Jose Ramirez’s solo homer in the first to toss seven strong innings of a 7-3 victory over Cleveland on May 24.
Valdez will look to follow up the strong performances of Justin Verlander, Chas McCormick and Martin Maldonado in the series opener on Thursday, a 6-0 Houston victory. Verlander allowed two hits over six innings en route to his major-league-leading 15th win, and McCormick and Maldonado each belted a solo homer and drove in three runs.
“I didn’t really feel that good at the plate early on in the game,” McCormick told AT&T SportsNet. “I started to feel comfortable after I got that (RBI single) up the middle and we went up 1-0.”
Valdez likely would be comfortable if he can keep rookie Steven Kwan at bay.
Kwan carries an 18-game hitting streak into Friday’s game after extending his run with an infield single in the eighth inning of the series opener. He is 28-for-80 (.350) during the streak.
Trade-deadline acquisition Trey Mancini likely will play in left field for the Astros, who could give Aledmys Diaz the day off after he collided with teammate Jake Meyers during the series opener. Diaz injured his left ring finger on the play.
“I didn’t play left in Baltimore (because) there’s a lot of ground to cover there with the new wall,” Mancini said. “I’d say left field (in Houston) probably suits me a little bit better on both sides of the ball, especially offensively.”
Cleveland right-hander Hunter Gaddis is expected to be summoned from Triple-A Columbus to make his major league debut on Friday.
Gaddis, a 6-foot-6, 260-pounder, became the best option after Guardians manager Terry Francona used Nick Sandlin to close out the fifth inning on Thursday before Bryan Shaw handled the sixth and Kirk McCarty went the rest of the way.
Francona said that he and pitching coach Carl Willis “were going through the game and (we said) if we went to Sandlin and then went to Shaw, if we’re down four if we go through our whole bullpen, if we got (McCarty) tomorrow against a right-handed-heavy lineup, we’re running a risk,” Francona said. “So, we pitched (McCarty) the last three innings.”
Gaddis, 24, posted a 4-3 record with a 4.24 ERA in 15 appearances (14 starts) with Double-A Akron before going 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA in two starts with Triple-A Columbus. Opponents batted just .176 against him with the Clippers.
The Guardians optioned McCarty to Columbus following Thursday’s game. The team had yet to announce a corresponding move on the 40-man roster in order to promote Gaddis.
“We just talked to (McCarty), he’s such a good kid, and he’s going to be back,” Francona said. “Sometimes guys … it happens. And I give the kid credit. He was really mature about it. And he actually threw the ball … he gave up a couple of (solo homers) in his first inning, but his last two innings were really good.”