CLEVELAND, Ohio — Terry Francona and the Guardians knew they were asking a lot of 24-year-old rookie Hunter Gaddis in making his major league debut against Houston’s powerful lineup.
Astros hitters entered Friday’s game second in the American League in home runs and third in runs scored. They scored eight times off Gaddis in 3 1/3 innings, piling up seven hits, including a pair of home runs by Trey Mancini to hand Cleveland an 9-3 loss at Progressive Field.
The Guardians have lost two straight overall and four of five matchups with the Astros this season.
Gaddis became the 13th Guardians player and fourth pitcher to debut this season for Cleveland, but Francona said prior to the game that regardless of the result, the outing would not “make or break” his career.
“Obviously we hope he does great,” Francona said. “But trying to ask him to do something before you kind of get to know him, that’s not fair to the kid.”
Gaddis was promoted before the game and outfielder Alex Call was designated for assignment to make room for the 6-foot-6 righty on the 40-man roster. He worked a scoreless first inning, collecting his first big league strikeout on a changeup to Yuli Gurriel.
But Mancini touched him for a solo home run in the second, and came around again in the third with the bases loaded to deliver his first career grand slam and give Houston a 6-1 lead.
It marked Mancini’s 10th career multi-homer game and first with the Astro after he was acquired Monday in a three-team deal prior to the major league trade deadline.
Cleveland jumped in front in the first on a solo home run by Amed Rosario, his seventh of the season and third in the last five games. Rosario drilled a Framber Valdez curveball over the wall in left center for a 1-0 Guardians lead.
Valdez, however, settled in and worked five straight scoreless innings before back-to-back RBI hits by Luke Maile and Myles Straw and a walk to Will Benson chased him from the game with one out in the seventh.
Seth Martinez relieved Valdez and got Rosario to pop out with the bases loaded before striking out pinch-hitter Nolan Jones to escape the inning.
Cleveland was unable to land a big hit against Valdez (10-4, 2.87), who struck out three and walked three while giving up seven hits. Straw grounded out with two runners on base in the third, and Oscar Gonzalez was doubled off first base on an infield pop by Josh Naylor that derailed any momenetum in the fourth.
Rookie outfielder Steven Kwan left the game in the fourth inning for precautionary reasons after fouling a ball off his foot during an earlier at-bat. Kwan’s 18-game hitting streak, the longest active streak in the majors, came to an end when Benson replaced him in left field.
Houston added a pair of runs in the fourth on a single by Martin Maldonado and a double by Jose Altuve. Maldonado’s RBI sacrifice fly in the eighth gave the Astros a six-run advantage.
Next: The series continues Saturday with a 6:10 p.m. first pitch from Progressive Field. Cleveland right-hander Cal Quantrill (7-5, 4.08) will face Astros righty Luis Garcia (8-7, 3.81). The game will air on Bally Sports Great Lakes, WTAM 1100 AM, WMMS 100.7 FM and the Guardians Radio Network.
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