Astros look to resume climb against hot Mets

The only team that could slow the Houston Astros on Friday night is the only team in baseball enjoying a hotter June.

The Astros will look to climb back to .500, and the New York Mets will aim to extend their red-hot run Saturday afternoon, when the teams meet in New York in the middle game of a three-game series.

Left-hander Framber Valdez (6-5, 3.68 ERA) is slated to start for the Astros against right-hander Tylor Megill (2-4, 4.81).

The Mets moved over .500 for the first time in almost two months Friday night when Tyrone Taylor, Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil all homered in a 7-2 victory over Houston.

The loss ended a seven-game winning streak for the Astros (40-41), who were trying to move over .500 for the first time this year.

Houston, which has made seven straight American League Championship Series appearances, was as many as 12 games under .500 twice this seaason but leads the American League with a 15-8 record this month.

The Astros averaged 6.9 runs per game during their winning streak but struggled with runners in scoring position Friday, when they collected 12 hits against five Mets pitchers and stranded a season-high 14 runners.

Starting pitcher Ronel Blanco, who entered Friday with the fifth-best ERA in the AL at 2.34, gave up six runs over 5 2/3 innings. Just three were earned due to a sixth-inning error by third baseman Alex Bregman, who muffed a potential inning-ending grounder by Mark Vientos with the Mets up 3-2.

“We’ve been playing excellent baseball,” Astros manager Joe Espada said. “And tonight was not one of those good nights.”

The Mets had another good night Friday, when they improved to an MLB-best 16-6 this month and moved over .500 at 40-39. New York most recently was over .500 at 16-15 on May 2.

The Mets fell as many as 11 games under .500 twice, most recently on June 2. New York has scored at least five runs 14 times in the past 26 games to help with the resurgence.

New York starter Jose Quintana lasted just one batter into the fifth inning Friday, but Adam Ottavino, winning pitcher Dedniel Nunez, Jake Diekman and Reed Garrett teamed to blank the Astros the rest of the way.

“We’re just playing good baseball right now,” Mets manager Carlos Mendoza said. “Knowing we’ve got a ways to go, but I like our approaches (and) the way we’re going about our business.”

Valdez earned the win last Sunday, when he gave up one run over seven innings as the Astros beat the Baltimore Orioles 8-1. He is 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA in two career starts against the Mets.

Megill took the loss last Saturday in his most recent start after giving up a season-high six runs over a season-low three innings as the Mets fell to the Chicago Cubs 8-1.

Megill didn’t factor into the decision in his lone career start against the Astros on June 21, 2023, when he allowed five runs (four earned) over 2 1/3 innings in Houston’s 10-8 victory.

–Field Level Media