Saturday, September 23, 2023
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MLB Preview: Houston Astros (72-57) at Detroit Tigers (58-69)


TONIGHT’S GAME: The Astros begin a 6-game road trip tonight in Detroit with the first game of a 3-game series vs. the Tigers… LHP Framber Valdez (9-9) will make his 25th start of the season as he takes on Tigers RHP Matt Manning (5-4)…Valdez last faced the Tigers on 4/4 at Minute Maid Park, taking the loss in a 6-3 defeat despite pitching well (7 IP, 2 ER, 9 K’s)

VS. THE TIGERS: The Astros are 1-2 vs. DET this season, dropping 2 of 3 at Minute Maid Park, 4/4-6…HOU was 7-0 vs. DET in 2022 and is 21-9 vs. them since 2018.
IN THE MOTOR CITY: The Astros were 3-0 at Comerica Park last season and have won 5 of their last 7 and 11 of their last 13 games at this venue (since 2018).

THE HORSE: LHP Framber Valdez is 6th in the AL in IP with 154.2 in 24 starts, but leads the league in IP per start at 6.4… RHP Gerrit Cole leads the AL with 160.1 IP in 26 starts (6.2 IP per start)…Valdez led the AL in IP in 2022 (201.1) and is 2nd in IP since the start of last season with 356.0 (Cole is 1st with 361.0)…Making History: On 8/1 vs. CLE, Valdez became the 1st LHP in franchise history to hurl a no-hitter, blanking the Guardians, 2-0 on 93 pitches…earned AL Player of the Week honors on the following Monday.

YESTERDAY’S RECAP: The lost to the Red Sox yesterday afternoon at Minute Maid Park, 17-1…RHP J.P. France (9-5) took the loss (2.1 IP, 10 ER) in what was the shortest start of his young career…prior to yesterday, France has pitched 7.0 innings in 4 of his last 5 starts…overall, BOS tallied their 17 runs on 24 hits…RHP Brandon Bielak hurled 5.1 innings (3 ER) in what was the longest relief outing by an Astros pitcher since LHP Kent Emanuel hurled 8.2 innings in a 16-2 win on 4/24/21 vs. LAA…Martín Maldonado pitched the 9th inning in what was his 2nd career ML appearance on the mound (other was 4/30/14 vs.STL while with MIL).

ROAD WARRIORS: At 37-26 (.587), the Astros have the 2ndbest road record in the AL, trailing only BAL (41-24, .631)… since the start of the 2022 season, HOU’s 88-56 (.611) road record is tops in the AL.

Astros Home-Road Comparisons (2023)
Home: .254, 66 G, 303 R, 4.59 Runs/Game, 75 HR, .413 SLG, .741 OPS
Road: .254, 63 G, 327 R, 5.19 Runs/Game, 92 HR, .431 SLG, .754 OPS

Home: 35-31, 66 G, 4.04 ERA, .254 opp. avg.
Road: 37-26, 63 G, 3.87 ERA, .237 opp. avg.
Best AL Road Record (2023) Best AL Road Record (2022-23)

  1. Baltimore: 41-24 (.631) 1. Houston: 88-56 (.611)
  2. Houston: 37-26 (.587) 2. Seattle: 81-65 (.555)
  3. Seattle: 37-28 (.569) 3. Toronto: 83-67 (.553)

HOW THE WEST WAS WON: The AL West race has tightened over the last week, with the top three teams in the division now all separated by 1.0 game…TEX enters tonight holding a 1.0-game lead over both HOU and SEA…TEX plays at MIN tonight while SEA will host KC.

ROSTER MOVE: RHP Brandon Bielak was optioned to Triple A Sugar Land following yesterday’s game…the Astros will announce a corresponding move later today.

2K JOSE: On 8/19 vs. SEA, 2B Jose Altuve recorded his 2,000th career hit…he reached 2,000 hits, 200 homers and 200 stolen bases in what was his 1,630th career game… according to MLB Stats, Altuve is the fastest player in MLB history (in terms of games played) to reach at least 2,000 hits, 200 homers and 200 stolen bases…the previous record holder was Hall of Famer Willie Mays, who did so in 1,669 games.

ALTUVE’S HOT STREAK: 2B Jose Altuve returned from the IL on July 26 and has since appeared in 26 games, in which he’s hit .380 (38×102) with a .453 OBP and a .992 OPS…he’s reached base safely in 23 of his 26 games since returning, and has hit safely in 21 of those 26 contests.

MVP NUMBERS: RF Kyle Tucker leads the AL in RBI (95), while ranking third in OPS (.892) and SLG (.520)…he’s also one of just three players in the Majors with 24-or-more home runs and steals, joining NL MVP candidate Ronald Acuña Jr. (28 HR, 58 SB) and SS Bobby Witt Jr. (26 HR, 37 SB)… defensively, Tucker, the reigning AL Gold Glove winner, has more starts (120) than any other AL player in right field, and has committed just one error in his 242 total chances.

IRON MAN: 3B Alex Bregman, who reached base safely in 11 of his 20 plate appearances in the series vs. BOS, leads the AL in games played (128) while ranking tied for second in walks (73), fifth in RBI (83), 6th in runs (78) and 10th in OBP (.357)…Bregman has already reached 20 homers on the season and is on pace for over 100 RBI, which would give him his third career 100-plus RBI season (2018-19).

YAINER BOMBS: C Yainer Diaz connected for his 18th homer of the season on Monday, becoming the eighth rookie in franchise history to hit 18-plus homers in a single season…a couple have come in recent years: SS Jeremy Peña (22 in 2022), Yordan Alvarez (27 in 2019, franchise rookie record), Yuli Gurriel (18 in 2017).

LAST START – 8/19 VS. SEA: handed the loss on Saturday vs. SEA after allowing a season-high 10 hits and 6 runs in 5.0 innings of work…marked his first career loss against the Mariners in what was his 12th career appearance against the division rival.

ABOUT VALDEZ: the 2023 All-Star is now 3 starts removed from tossing his first career no-hitter…is pitching in his 6th season (2018-23) in the Astros rotation…has made 100 career regular season starts and has earned 50 career wins…has also been a standout postseason performer, going 7-2 with a 3.41 ERA in 13 career postseason outings, including 12 starts.

  • had an excellent first half this season, going 7-6 with a 2.51 ERA to earn his 2nd consecutive All-Star Game selection…at the All-Star break, had the lowest qualified ERA in the Majors… since the break, has gone 2-3 with a 6.18 ERA in 7 starts, while allowing 4-or-more earned runs in 5 of his 7 starts.
  • despite the slow start to the 2nd half, still ranks 6th in the AL in quality starts (15), 6th in innings pitched (154.2), 7th in pitching WAR (3.5), 8th in opponent OPS (.668), 8th in strikeouts (153) and 10th in the AL in ERA (3.55)

ABOUT THE NO-NO: tossed the 1st no-hitter of his career and the 15th regular-season (16th overall) in Astros history on 8/1 vs. CLE…was the first Astros no-hitter tossed by a LHP… faced the minimum of 27 batters, which is the first time that’s been achieved out of all the Astros no-hitters.

  • allowed just 1 baserunner via a walk and struck out 7 batters through the 9 shutout innings… was his 6th career complete game and his 3rd complete-game shutout.
  • Valdez needed only 93 pitches in the no-hitter…per Sarah Langs, this ranks as the third-lowest total in a no-hitter since pitch counts started being tracked in 1988…the others were tossed by the Astros RHP Daryl Kile (83) on Sept. 8, 1993, and the Yankees RHP David Cone (88) on July 18, 1999.
  • became the ninth Dominican-born player to throw a no-hitter in Major League history.
  • was named the American League Player of the Week on Aug. 7 following his no-hit effort… it was the first career weekly for Valdez.

VS. DET: has 6 career appearances (5 starts) against the Tigers…two of those starts were complete game efforts, a 6.0-inning CG loss in a doubleheader (6/26/21 at DET) and a traditional 9.0-inning CG shutout (9/12/22 at DET).

  • faced the Tigers once this season, on 4/4 in Houston…handed the loss after allowing 3 runs on 8 hits in 7.0 innings…struck out 9 in the outing.

STAYING GROUNDED: once again leads the AL in groundball percentage with a 54.5% rate…ranks immediately ahead of RHP Zach Eflin (51.0%) in that category.

  • owns a career 63.8% groundball percentage, which ranks as the lowest qualified percentage in the Majors since 2018….since ground ball percentage started being tracked in 1987, Valdez career ground ball percentage is the 2nd-highest ever posted by a starting pitcher (min. 300 IP), trailing only RHP Brandon Webb (65.1%).


TIGERS DROP RUBBER MATCH TO CUBS: The Tigers rallied to tie the game in the sixth inning, but the Cubs scored in both the eighth and the ninth inning to pull out a 6-4 win on Wednesday. Kerry Carpenter hit a game-tying grand slam, his 20th homer of the season, while Akil Baddoo, Andy Ibáñez, Zach McKinstry and Jake Rogers each had a hit. Tarik Skubal started for Detroit and threw 6.0 innings, allowing four runs on six hits with a walk and seven strikeouts in 6.0 innings. Beau Brieske took the loss in relief, giving up one run on two hits with a walk and a strikeout in 2.0 innings.

KC’S MASTERPIECE: Kerry Carpenter continued his impressive offensive stretch on Wednesday, hitting a game-tying grand slam in the sixth inning, his first big league grand slam and his 20th homer of the season. It was also Carpenter’s ninth home run in August, which is tied for the Major League lead. He has reached base safely in a career-best 20 straight games, which is the second-longest active on-base streak in the Majors, trailing only Atlanta’s Ozzie Albies (23 games). Over his last 20 games, he is batting .389/.457/.819 with four doubles, nine home runs and 19 RBI.

POWER SURGE: With Kerry Carpenter’s longball on Wednesday, the Tigers have now hit at least one home run in 18-of-21 games during August. Entering tonight’s game, Detroit has 32 round-trippers this month, which ranks tied for fourth in the American League. For the season, the Tigers have hit 130 home runs, already eclipsing their total of 110 from 2022.

MOVIN’ ON UP: Miguel Cabrera will look to continue his climb up the MLB all-time hits list tonight. Entering tonight’s game, Cabrera has 3,149 hits in his career, three shy of tying Paul Waner (3,152) for 18th in big league history and five away from equaling George Brett (3,154) for 17th. Additionally, Cabrera’s next RBI will be the 1,869th RBI of his career, which will break a tie with Mel Ott for 11th in MLB history.

ZACH ATTACK: Zach McKinstry was on base three times in Wednesday’s game, going 1×2 with two walks. McKinstry has hit safely in five straight games, the longest single-season streak of his career. Over his last 10 games, McKinstry is 9×30 with two RBI and four walks. He also recorded a stolen base on Wednesday, his team-leading 15th of the season, which is more than double his previous single-season career high (7 in 2022).

AT COMERICA PARK: The Tigers are 1-2 on their current 10-game homestand, which includes three games vs. Chicago (NL) (1-2), three games vs. Houston (August 25-27) and four games vs. New York (AL) (August 28-31). Detroit is 27-35 at Comerica Park this season. As a team, the Tigers are hitting .247/.311/.384 at home, while the pitching staff has a 4.72 ERA (568.0IP/298ER).

TIGERS AND ASTROS: The Tigers and Astros begin their second and final series of the season tonight. The two teams met earlier this season in Houston with Detroit winning two-of-three games. In 2022, the Astros won all seven games from the Tigers.


  • LHP Tyler Alexander (left lat/shoulder strain, 60-day IL on July 4, retroactive to July 3)
  • LHP Matthew Boyd (left elbow sprain, 60-day IL on June 27)
  • RHP Mason Englert (left hip tightness, 15-day IL on July 24, retroactive to July 23)
  • OF Austin Meadows (anxiety, 60-day IL on April 8, retroactive to April 7)
  • RHP Casey Mize (right elbow sprain, 60-day IL on February 17)
  • RHP Freddy Pacheco (right elbow sprain, 60-day IL on March 27)


25 Matt Manning • 5-4, 4.31 ERA (64.2IP/31ER)

  • Manning will make his 13th start of the season tonight in the series opener vs. Houston.
  • Earned his fifth win of the season on Saturday at Cleveland, giving up two runs, one earned, on five hits with a walk and two strikeouts in 6.0 innings.
  • Made his first career start against the Astros earlier this season on April 4 and picked up the win, giving up two runs on six hits with two walks and four strikeouts in 5.2 innings…in 21 career starts at Comerica Park, Manning is 5-7 with a 4.36 ERA (107.1IP/52ER) and 76 strikeouts.
  • Was the Tigers starting pitcher for the first combined no-hitter in franchise history on July 8 vs. Toronto, tossing 6.2 innings with three walks and five strikeouts…marked his fourth career start with at least 6.0 shutout innings.
  • Returned to the active roster on June 27 at Texas, allowing two runs on three hits with four walks and four strikeouts in 5.2 innings…had been sidelined since April 12 with a right foot fracture.
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