Diaz Homers Again, Valdez Dominates, Astros Defeat Angels 7-1

Astros dominate Angels with stellar pitching and timely hitting

by Zain ul Abedin
Diaz Homers Again, Valdez Dominates, Astros Defeat Angels 7-1
© Logan Riely/Getty Images

Yainer Diaz homered in a fourth straight game, sparking a three-run chase for the Houston Astros on Friday night as they provided more than enough support for Framber Valdez's four-hit pitching in a 7-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels.

Valdez allowed just four hits and struck out seven over seven scoreless innings. That broke a tie with a three-run double by Yordan Alvarez in a key five-run seventh, and the Astros won for the fifth time in the last eight games.

Valdez (5-3) fanned eight in his seventh career complete game, his first since last August's no-hitter. And it was very much apparent his mastery over the Angels extends to a trio of outings with a dozen or more strikeouts in his career and five victories in eight starts at Angel Stadium.

Valdez dedicated his performance to teammate Cristian Javier, who had elbow surgery this week and is expected to be out until late next season. "It's one of those games for your record, for yourself, for your future, is good," Valdez said through an interpreter.

“I spoke to Cristian earlier today, and I told him, ‘I’m going to throw a really good game today because we need it." Valdez was near flawless, not issuing a walk until Taylor Ward drew one with two outs in the ninth.

Manager Joe Espada allowed Valdez to face one more batter, and shortstop Jeremy Peña sealed the win with a diving catch on Kevin Pillar’s line drive.

Diaz's Power Surge

Diaz’s two-run homer came shortly after Alvarez’s double, giving him nine RBIs in the last four games.

Diaz has been on a tear, having homered in every game of the Astros' series against St. Louis earlier this week, and his hit off the Angels’ Hunter Strickland was his seventh of the season. “When you put in the effort and you get really focused, the results come in ways you’re not even expecting,” Diaz said through an interpreter.

Before his recent streak, Diaz had only one homer in his previous 51 games and none since April 11. He hit 23 homers last season in his first full big league campaign. “There might have been a little anxiety there, doing a little too much to try to help the team,” Diaz said.

“Now I’m being more of the player that I really am. Just trying to be calm and knowing what I can do”. José Abreu also added a homer in the eighth for Houston. Kevin Pillar hit a home run for the Angels, who could not equal their longest winning streak of the season at four games.

"We've got one of the best pitchers in the game, and he had to be on top of his game, and he was," said Angels manager Ron Washington. Griffin Canning (2-6) gave up three runs on seven hits while pitching into the seventh inning.

Houston had gotten just two runners as far as second base in the first six innings, but a rally in the seventh sparked by a critical two-base hit by Alvarez swung the game. Astros put OF Kyle Tucker on 10-day IL with a right shin contusion.

He fouled a ball off his leg on Wednesday night against St. Louis; the move is retroactive to Tuesday. Javier and fellow starter Jose Urquidy both underwent Tommy John surgery early this week. Angels: Anthony Rendon was taking grounders at third base in pregame as he works his way back from a hamstring injury that has kept him out since April 20.

Los Angeles' Tyler Anderson (5-5, 2.37 ERA) has surrendered one run in each of his last four starts, suitable for a 1.35 ERA. He'll face Houston's Hunter Brown (1-5, 6.18), who one-runned the Angels over six innings last time out.

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