CLEVELAND – Jose Altuve hit a grand slam to briefly calm constant boos from Cleveland fans Yordan Alvarez and Michael Brantley scored, and the Houston Astros ended a four-game losing streak with a 7-2 win. on the Indians Thursday night.
Humiliated from the moment he stepped into the batter’s box to start the game, Altuve logged in for his fifth career slam in the fifth inning against rookie JC Mejia (1-3) to give Houston a 5-point lead. -2.
The Astros are making their first visit to Progressive Field since 2019, and they began to hear boos and other comments during pre-game presentations about their infamous sign-theft scandal.
Framber Valdez (5-1) overcame early control issues and allowed two runs and four hits in seven innings while helping the slim Houston relievers box to rest.
The Astros made late-inning double plays in the fifth and sixth to help the southpaw.
Alvarez crushed his 14th homerun, a 446-foot shot through the center field pens, in the fourth for the Astros, who went on to an MLB 30-16 best against teams with winning records.
Brantley, who spent 10 seasons with Cleveland, added his fifth homerun in the seventh.
After being swept away in a three-game home streak by Baltimore, the Astros didn’t arrive in Cleveland until 5 a.m. and their bats were slow for four innings before Altuve shaken things up.
Kyle Tucker led the fifth with a double and Mejia walked Myles Straw before the right-hander was handcuffed over a cavity that loaded the bases.
Altuve fell 1-2 behind in the count, and as the crowd prepared to roar for a possible strikeout, the Houston second baseman fired a Mejia slider over the left wall for his 18th circuit and its 11th since June 1st.
The Indians took a 1-0 lead in the second but missed an opportunity to do more damage against Valdez, who is one of the AL’s best pitchers since returning from a broken left index finger suffered during spring training.
Harold Ramirez took a starting walk, went on to third on Eddie Rosario’s singles and scored on Valdez’s wild field. Two more walks loaded the goals, but Valdez escaped with one strikeout and one-second strength.
SS Astros Carlos Correa took his leave after the team arrived early in the morning. Manager Dusty Baker intends to give the others some time over the next few days in a bid to regain his full strength by the time of Sunday’s series final.
ANOTHER INDIAN INJURY
Eddie Rosario left third with tight abdominal pressure.
Rosario, who recently had a 14-game hitting streak, hit a second single on a ball that seemed to be deep enough that he could get a brace. He was visibly embarrassed by something when he moved up to second on rough terrain.
Astros: RHP Josh James, who underwent hip surgery in October, started a pre-game reliever paddock session as he continues his long recovery. His next stop should be a rehab mission at Triple-A. “I thought I saw a ghost when I saw him in the dining room”, Baker joked after a pre-game meeting with James.
Indians: C Roberto Perez (finger surgery) remains on track to be activated on Saturday. He got scared Wednesday night at Double-A Akron when he was shot in the right hand. “It was in the meat of the hand” said director Terry Francona. “He’s a little bruised over there.” Perez will catch up at Triple-A Columbus on Friday. … Slugger Franmil Reyes (oblique strain) is also expected to be activated on Saturday after being sidelined since May 23.
Astros RHP Lance McCullers Jr. (5-1, 2.94 ERA) starts Friday’s game against LHP Sam Hentges (1-2, 7.32), one of Cleveland’s three starting rookies in the series.