Baltimore Orioles at Houston Astros
When and Where: Saturday, June 8, Minute Maid Park, Houston, Texas, 4:10 p.m. EDT.
The Houston Astros’ search for a fifth starter continues Saturday when Framber Valdez makes his first start of the season as the AL West leaders continue their series against the Baltimore Orioles.
Cashner winning ugly but winning all the same for O’s
Andrew Cashner (6-2, 5.04 ERA) is looking to match a season best by winning a third straight start, though his earned run average has actually gone up nearly one full run in winning his last two.
ICYMI: Baltimore @Orioles pitcher Andrew Cashner is a capital-T Texan, and his teammates had some fun with his tendency to wear the Lone Star State on his sleeve ahead of their three-game road trip to Arlington. https://t.co/CGY2Cxediy
— Texas Monthly (@TexasMonthly) June 6, 2019
The right-hander was pushed back two days from his scheduled Thursday start due to leg soreness, which gives him seven days of rest entering this contest. Cashner labored to a win over San Francisco on May 31, giving up a season high-tying six runs and walking a season-worst five in five innings as Baltimore recorded a 9-6 victory.
“It was probably one of the worst starts of my career,” Cashner told the Orioles official website after surviving a five-run first in which he threw 46 pitches. “I never really got in a groove with anything. I was yanking my fastball. Breaking ball was short. My changeup was terrible. I kept telling myself to get through the fifth, save the bullpen as much as possible.”
Cashner has not faced the Astros since 2017, which may be a good thing considering he is 1-6 with a 3.56 ERA in eight career starts against them. His lone win came at Minute Maid Park in August 2017, and the righty has allowed three or fewer runs in five of those eight starts.
Cashner will be happy to not face injured Astros second baseman Jose Altuve, who is 9 for 20 with a homer and two doubles in their matchups. Michael Brantley is 3 for 5 with a pair of doubles while Yuli Gurriel is 4 for 9 with two two-baggers.
Valdez tries to succeed where McHugh, Martin have failed
After parting ways with Dallas Keuchel in the offseason, the No. 5 spot has been one of the few problem areas for the AL West-leading Astros despite a spate of injuries to position players.
Collin McHugh was the original fifth starter, but his early struggles led to Corbin Martin being called up. Martin had two good starts before enduring struggles of his own, which led to manager AJ Hinch turning to Valdez (2-2, 3.12).
— LastWordOnSports Inc (@lastwordonsport) June 5, 2019
The left-hander earned this chance with four shutout innings of two-hit relief Monday night following Martin at Seattle, picking up the win as Houston held off the Mariners 4-2.
Valdez made five starts as a rookie for the Astros last year, going 2-1 with a 2.59 ERA. He did not last more than 5 1-3 innings in any of them due to walking 18 batters in 24 1-3 innings, but the southpaw also held opposing hitters to a .193 batting average in those games.
Valdez made one relief appearance versus the Orioles last year, yielding one run in 2 1-3 innings with three walks.
The Orioles are:
- 1-6 in Cashner’s last seven starts vs. AL West teams.
- 1-5 in Cashner’s last six starts vs. above-.500 teams.
- 5-16 in their last 21 games vs. left-handed starters.
The Astros are:
- 36-16 in their last 52 Saturday games.
- 41-14 in their last 55 during game 2 of a series.