The Houston Astros got exactly what they wanted from their newest pitcher while extending a win streak, ending a lengthy road skid and moving into a virtual tie for the AL West lead.
Scott Feldman will try to follow that performance with a better showing than in his return from the disabled list last week and secure a sixth consecutive victory for the Astros on Saturday night against the Kansas City Royals.
Scott Kazmir, acquired from Oakland on Thursday, pitched seven innings in a 4-0 win in Friday’s series opener and helped end Houston’s six-game road losing streak. Kansas City (57-38) was held to four singles in its series-worst seventh consecutive loss to the Astros after batting .302 and averaging 5.3 runs while winning 12 of its previous 16 contests.
With the Los Angeles Angels’ 4-2 loss to Texas on Friday, Houston moved within percentage points of the division lead.
Feldman (4-5, 4.93 ERA) will try to keep the Royals’ bats relatively quiet again while improving on his effort in an 7-6 loss to Texas last Saturday. He yielded four runs and nine hits in 5 2-3 innings in his return from a torn right meniscus that had kept him out since May 26.
"I think I was mainly just pleased that I know that I’m healthy and there’s no issues with my knee at all," Feldman told MLB’s official website. "But we’re in a pennant race, though, so it’s not time for me to be pleased with an outing like that. I need to go six, seven innings and limit the damage.
"We did a good job of putting some runs across, but in the end, I gave up a few too many. Hopefully, I can do a better job next time."
Houston (55-43) will seek its first six-game win streak since a run of 10 from April 24-May 3 – its longest in 11 years – but Danny Duffy could prove an obstacle with the way he’s pitched this month.
Duffy (4-4, 4.24) is 2-0 with a 1.33 ERA in three July outings and gave up one run in eight-plus innings in a 4-1 win at the Chicago White Sox on Sunday. The run he allowed came via a solo homer to Tyler Saladino, the only batter he faced in the ninth.
"I’m finally starting to learn that when you have the best defense in the league behind you, all you’ve got to do is execute," said Duffy, who was 0-4 with an 8.14 ERA in his five starts before July.
Duffy ended that stretch with a 4-0 loss in Houston on June 30, giving up four runs in 6 2-3 innings. The left-hander is 0-2 with a 7.59 ERA in two lifetime starts against the Astros.
Feldman is 3-0 with a 2.89 ERA in his last four starts in Kansas City and earned a 9-2 win there in his most recent visit on May 26, 2014.
Lorenzo Cain went 3 for 3 against the right-hander in that game and is 7 for 13 lifetime. Alcides Escobar, Eric Hosmer, Kendrys Morales, Mike Moustakas and Salvador Perez have hit a combined .154 (12 for 78) against him.
Hosmer enters this meeting with Feldman batting .500 (14 for 28) with a 1.263 OPS in his last seven games.
Houston’s Jose Altuve, batting .382 in an eight-game hitting streak, is 3 for 7 against Duffy in his career.