HOUSTON – Before Dusty Baker became manager of the Houston Astros. he heard that left-hander Framber Valdez had all the weapons, but just needed to get it all together and find the strike zone.
In the last month, the 26-year-old has been able to do just that and it's helped steady a rotation that has been hit hard by injuries.
Valdez struck out a career-high 11 in seven strong innings and Carlos Correa drove in three runs as the Astros snapped a three-game skid with an 11-4 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Monday night.
Angels star Albert Pujols passed Alex Rodriguez on the career RBIs list with a single for his 2,087th run batted in. Hank Aaron is the record holder at 2,297 — Babe Ruth is listed next on some charts with 2,214, even though 224 occurred before the RBI became an official statistic in 1920.
Houston led by one with two outs and the bases loaded in the sixth inning when Correa laced a double to the left field corner to send everyone home and make it 8-4. Kyle Tucker, who hit a solo homer in the second inning, followed with a double that scored Correa to pad the lead.
“Framber was doing a great job, so to be able to give him a comfortable lead that was huge for him to go out and just throw strikes and keep dominating,” Correa said.
Baker raved about Valdez's curveball, which he used to get all of his strikeouts.
“His curveball has always been good," Baker said. “What his curveball does is it kind of peels the banana, which is a baseball term where he's sinking away his fastball and then his curveball he either back doors it or peels the banana on the inside part of the plate."