As the Houston Astros‘ offense turned it around, starting pitcher Cristian Javier picked up a historical accolade in his first outing since being optioned to the alternate training site. While the only runs from the Los Angels Angels came off a controversial home run from no other than Albert Pujols, Javier dominated the Halos while only allowing three hits, one walk and a HPB over five innings with nine strikeouts.
While the Astros posted an 8-2 victory over the Angels, Javier became the second Houston pitcher all-time to record eight swinging strikeouts to retire his first eight outs. The first time was from Jim Deshaies against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sep. 23,1986. Although this seemed like a long game in the end, YouTube did award Javier with the player of the game trophy, which was voted on by a fan poll.
Cristian Javier chases history in his first start since being optioned.
While Javier was going to be capped at 100 pitches, his stretch at the alternate training site helped build up his endurance in his five inning start. The right-hander was dealing, after only having one start with the alternate training site crew.
The defense picked up, after Myles Straw had two missed opportunities on the road trip on high catch probabilities plays. While picking up some weight at the plate as well, the right-hander played closer to his ceiling on Thursday.
The Astros are back on the field on Friday against the Angels at 7:10 p.m. with Zack Greinke on the bump. While the bats continue their resurgence, they will have to face left-hander Andrew Heaney.
Lance McCullers Jr. is still working back from respiratory issues; the right-hander is slated for Sunday’s game, after being scratched in Colorado. Taylor Jones was also activated from the injured list and optioned to the alternate training site, but although we never learned the reasoning for the IL-stint, the first baseman did suffer side effects from his second shot of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Jose Altuve is still away from the team and is hopeful to return this weekend or early next week, as Dusty Baker has shown that he misses the former MVP. Baker also picked up his 1,900 win, which holds him second among active managers.