Framber Valdez was dominant on Thursday. Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images.
The Astros came into this game against the Rangers looking to take the finale of the 3-game series, and they did exactly that.
Framber Valdez had another classic performance, pitching seven innings while allowing zero runs and four hits. Valdez also recorded 8Ks and 1BB.
On offense, it was a big day for Yuli Gurriel who bounced back with 3 hits after going 0-5 the previous night. Alex Bregman and Martin Maldonado both went yard, hitting 2 and 3-run bombs respectively.
Maldonado's came in the bottom of the second inning, giving the Astros a 3-0 lead.
Bregman's put the Astros on top 5-0 in the bottom of the 5th.
The Astros added two more runs in the 7th after Bregman singled to drive in a run, and a sac fly from Aledmys Diaz.
Heading into the 8th inning, Seth Martinez took over for Valdez protecting a 7-0 lead. That lead wouldn't last long after Martinez allowed a couple of base runners and gave up 2 runs off a pair of singles from Nathaniel Lowe and Leody Taveras.
The Astros headed to the bottom of the 8th up 7-2.
After a scoreless bottom of the 8th, Rafael Montero came in to close the game out in the 9th.
Montero gave up a solo homer to Marcus Semien with 2 outs in the 9th before shutting the door.
Final: Astros 7, Rangers 3
Next up: Oakland comes to Minute Maid to play the Astros Friday night at 7:10PM.
While most of the Astros roster is returning for the 2024 season, there are still some areas of uncertainty for the club. Astros manager Joe Espada will have some tough decisions to make in his first season managing the team.
The Astros infield is set, so we know who will be playing on a nightly basis, assuming health. The outfield is where things get tricky. Espada told the Houston Chronicle last week that he hopes to play Alvarez more in left field this season, which would open up the DH spot for Chas McCormick and players he would like to rest while keeping their bat in the lineup (Yainer Diaz, Jose Altuve, etc).
Astros GM Dana Brown would like to see if Jake Meyers can hit well enough to play regularly in center field. This is a team that stresses defense, which Meyers provides. But if defense is the top priority, wouldn't that mean Chas McCormick should play left field with Yordan Alvarez hitting in the DH spot?
Certainly, there will be nights when that's the case. The reality of the situation is all these guys are going to play, but how much and where is yet to be seen.
Houston plays 20 games in 21 days to start the season, so it's not going to take long to see if Meyers is providing enough offense to play regularly. If we get into the month of May and Meyers is an offensive liability in the lineup, we won't be surprised if his playing time starts to decrease. But by how much?
Don't miss the video as we examine how Joe Espada will deploy his outfielders and get the most out of the DH this season!
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