Houston's bats unload on Seattle

Yordan Alvarez returns as Astros romp Mariners in lopsided win

Yordan Alvarez Astros
Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Yordan Alvarez Astros

After taking two of three against the Giants earlier in the week, the Astros had a day off on Thursday before resuming play at home Friday night. The series opener of the three-game set against the Mariners had Framber Valdez on the mound, and Yordan Alvarez activated and back in the lineup. Here's a quick rundown of the game:

Final Score: Astros 11, Mariners 1.

Record: 9-10, third in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Framber Valdez (1-2, 1.90 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Nestor Cortes (0-1, 15.26 ERA).

Seattle scores first, then Alvarez homers as Houston's offense explodes 

After successful command in his appearances so far in 2020, Framber Valdez had struggles in the top of the first inning Friday night, issuing two walks, hitting a batter, and allowing a sac fly to put Seattle up 1-0 right away. He would get through the inning; then, his offense went to work for a massive inning of their own.

After Yusei Kikuchi, the expected starter for Seattle, was a late scratch, Nestor Cortes would begin the game on the mound for the Mariners. The Astros jumped all over him, starting with an RBI-single by Alex Bregman to tie the game. With two runners on base, that brought up Yordan Alvarez for his first plate appearance of 2020. What he did with it should be of little surprise for those that watched the 2019 AL Rookie of the Year last season:

That gave Houston a 4-1 lead, but that was just the beginning. They'd go on to make it a nine-run inning, getting a solo home run by Yuli Gurriel to make it back-to-back homers after Alvarez, a two-RBI double by Martin Maldonado, an RBI-double by Josh Reddick, and then a final run on an error, making it 9-1. After his homer, Gurriel followed that with a triple in his next at-bat, leading off the bottom of the second with an immediate runner in scoring position. Carlos Correa drove him in with an RBI-groundout, getting the Astros to double digits at 10-1.

Valdez finishes six, bullpen wraps it up

After the erratic first where he allowed the run, Valdez was able to settle in for the following innings, battling back to keep Seattle off the board over the next five, pitching through six en route to the easy win. His final line: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, 0 HR.

Yordan Alvarez would record another RBI, going to the plate with bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth before being hit by a pitch to bring in another run and make it 11-1. With Valdez's night done, Brandon Bailey took over in the top of the seventh and was able to erase a walk and a single for a scoreless inning, then returned for another in the eighth. Cy Sneed would go to the mound in the ninth and finished off the ten-run victory.

Up Next: The middle game of this series will start Saturday at 6:10 PM Central. The Mariners have Nick Margevicius (0-0, 3.24 ERA) slated to make a start, while Cristian Javier (1-1, 4.02 ERA) will continue his rookie campaign for the Astros.

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Cristian Javier and Jose Urquidy are out for the season.Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images.

Houston starters Cristian Javier and José Urquidy are both scheduled to have right elbow surgery, a big blow to an Astros team trying to rebound after a terrible start to the season.

General manager Dana Brown made the announcement Wednesday, saying Urquidy will have surgery Wednesday while Javier's is set for Thursday.

“Right now, they are both having an elbow surgery,” Brown said. “We’re not sure to the extent of it, but Tommy John is certainly a possibility talking with both of them.”

Both players will miss the entire season and would miss part of next season if Tommy John surgery is needed, with the typical recovery from the ulnar collateral ligament replacement surgery taking 12-18 months.

Recovery from internal brace, which uses artificial material to make the repair, has allowed pitchers to return to the majors in as little as nine months.

The Astros already were dealing with injuries to their rotation, with starters Luis Garcia and Lance McCullers not pitching yet this season because of injuries and not expected to return until after the All-Star break.

But Brown said he believes the Astros' rotation, which is led by Justin Verlander and Framber Valdez, will be just fine despite the injuries because Hunter Brown, Spencer Arrighetti and Ronel Blanco have filled in nicely.

“Losing Urquidy and Javier is tough, but thank God, we have the young kids stepping up and they’re starting to throw the ball well,” Brown said. “So I think our rotation's pretty good right now. You never want to lose those type of arms, but there’s no panic because our guys are really throwing well.”

Houston, which has reached the AL Championship Series in each of the last seven seasons, entered Wednesday's games in third place in the AL West with a 28-34 record.

Brown said the injuries won't change how he approaches things leading up to the trade deadline on July 30.

“We’re always in the market for pitching because of reasons like this,” he said. “I’ve been in baseball for 34 years and I know how long and how tough the season is. It’s a grind of 162 and so we’re always in the market of claiming pitchers... and we’re always trying to add to the depth. And so it’s business as usual, we don’t wait until things fall apart before we find answers.”

Urquidy hasn’t pitched this season after straining his right forearm in spring training. He appeared close to coming off the injured list before he left a rehabilitation start for Triple-A Sugar Land with right elbow inflammation on May 24.

The 29-year-old had Tommy John surgery in 2017 and made his big league debut two years later. He was 3-3 with a 5.29 ERA in 10 starts and six relief appearances last season.

In five major league seasons, Urquidy is 27-16 with a 3.98 ERA in 70 starts and nine relief appearances.

Javier was 3-1 with a 3.89 ERA in seven starts for Houston this season. He was placed on the injured list with right forearm discomfort on May 24.

The 27-year-old is 33-18 with a 3.59 ERA in 116 career appearances with 82 starts over five MLB seasons.

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This story has been corrected to show that the elbow surgery Javier and Urquidy are both facing might not be Tommy John surgery.

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