Jose Altuve leaves the game against Angels after being hit by the pitch


Jose Altuve leaves the game against Angels after being hit by the pitch

ANAHEIM — The Astros did not seek another setback for their lineup on Thursday. Those plans went awry almost immediately.

The first pitch of the game from Angels left-back Reid Detmers hit Jose Altuve in the left knee, leaving Altuve in visible pain. He stayed in the game for the half-inning but was replaced at second base in the bottom of the frame by Mauricio Dubón.

Already minus Yordan Alvarez (a right hand problem) and Michael Brantley (shoulder problem), the effects of their absence on the record were showing. After crossing two runs in the first run, the Astros’ bats fell silent at the plate until Jeremy Peña’s 10th inning single, which broke the tiebreak, sealed a series win over the Angels.

Ryan Pressly threw two scoreless innings to retain the 3-2 win, helped greatly by Dubón’s jump catch on a Max Stassi softliner for the second of ten. Despite the recent injury tide, Houston has won 22 of its last 29 and went 4-2 on the road trip.

“It was hard-fought,” said manager Dusty Baker. “We’ll take it.”

The All-Star break couldn’t come soon enough for these Astros, especially with three of their key hitters battered. Altuve, who entered the night in July at .350/.471/.600 in 11 games with six extra-base hits, was diagnosed with a left knee bruise and is on day-to-day. Baker said he plans to rest Altuve independently along with other veterans at home against Oakland on Friday.

“He’ll be sore,” Baker said. “[The pitch] hit him close to the bone on the side of the knee. I just hope he is fine on Saturday and Sunday.”

Baker commented on the warm temperatures in Southern California before the game, calling it “firedamp.” When Altuve reached and Peña made a move to open the game, the Astros appeared to confirm their manager’s words. Alex Bregman batted after Detmer’s first offer and headed to left field to load the bases before Kyle Tucker clinched a run with a backfield hit.

Houston had an opportunity to put the Angels in a deeper hole, but a popout, the choice of a run-scoring fielder, and a miscommunication on the shields resulted in an innings end on the basepaths and an unsatisfactory 2-0 lead. It wasn’t until the sixth that the Astros got another runner in the points.

Korey Lee, replacing Martín Maldonado as automatic runner to start the 10th, advanced to third base with a deep fly ball from Dubón and hit Peña’s single the other way.

“You want to be prepared for the situation,” Peña said. “I was ready to throw something up and go.”

“He’s playing well beyond his experience and age,” Baker said. “The situation didn’t bother him or make it too big for him.”

Left-hander Framber Valdez made his first start since being named an All-Star by his manager and showed why he made an AL-leading 16th quality start of his 18 games this season as well as his 15th straight. He went six innings to protect an undermanned bullpen and recovered from a high early pitch count and a bout of ferocity.

A 31-pitch third inning included one for Luis Rengifo, who avoided Maldonado’s gauntlet entirely and went straight for back net. Rengifo pulled a walk and Jo Adell was hit in the foot to load bases before Valdez left Jonathan Villar to force the Angels’ first run. The next inning, Stassi singled and reached second place due to a Dubón error, was sacrificed in third place and scored on a pass ball to Shohei Ohtani.

But Valdez was efficient after that, collecting his last six outs in just 14 spots. He finished his outstanding first half with a 2.66 ERA over 115 innings.

The undermanned bullpen, beginning with Héctor Neris, followed by Rafael Montero and Pressly, batted seven over four innings. The only two goals allowed came against Neris.

Pressly, who has retired 24 straight batsmen dating back to a botched save against the Yankees on June 23, continued his recent run of brilliance, a fast ninth inning that gave Baker an opportunity to let him stay in the 10th , to close.

“What helped was that [his] The number of pitches was low,” Baker said, “which allowed him to step back in the 10th and then we executed right [on offense].”

A strikeout by Jared Walsh was followed by Dubón’s hook, which left Stassi’s bat at 59.8mph. A ball passed was of little consequence as Brandon Marsh went down swinging to ensure the Astros wouldn’t lose consecutive games, which they have been doing since 10/11. didn’t do more against the Marlins in June.

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