Framber Valdez of the Astros throws a 93-pitch no-hitter against the Guardians.

131715797 web1 131715797 64800777fbae4088b4d8c100a1ed44f6(AP-photo/Kevin M.cox)

(AP) — HOUSTON — Framber Valdez was determined to do better this month after having a bad July with an ERA of 7.29.

On the first of August, he did that for sure.

In Tuesday night’s 2-0 win over the Cleveland Guardians, Valdez threw the 16th no-hitter in Houston Astros history.

“I’ll be the first to admit that the last couple of games, I wasn’t as focused as I could have been,” Valdez said in Spanish through a translator. “But today, I just came to the field very focused, positive, and ready to give it my all.”

Just a few hours after the Astros got Justin Verlander back from the New York Mets, Valdez walked just one batter in the fifth inning but still faced the minimum number of batters because of a double play. He made 93 throws, and 65 of them were strikes.

Manager Dusty Baker said, “It’s a great day.” “Valdez got off to a great start. He had his breaking ball right from the start… “He was on, and you could tell he stayed on.

Gabriel Arias started the ninth by grounding out, and then Myles Straw hit a line drive to center field. Cam Gallagher then threw to Jeremy Pena to end the game and start the party.

Valdez (9-7) put his hands up over his head, clapped, and had a big smile on his face. He is the first Houston pitcher with a left-handed arm to throw a no-hitter.

Valdez said, “When I got to the seventh inning, I told myself, ‘OK, I can finish this game without getting a hit.'” “It was the eighth inning, and I was still feeling good. It felt like the first inning, so I said. “I’m just going to keep going after the big hitters and trying my best.”

Before Tuesday, the 29-year-old from the Dominican Republic had thrown five complete games, two of which were shutouts.

Martin Maldonado, who is a catcher, caught his third no-hitter. He said Valdez’s warmup showed that he would do well that night.

Maldonado said, “I could tell from the bullpen that he wasn’t joking around.” “From the moment he walked out there, he was all business.”

Maldonado had a simple explanation for why Valdez was so important Tuesday night.

He said, “Just Framber being Framber.”

Valdez relies a lot on getting outs on the ground, and this game was no different. Valdez came into the game with a 54.7 percent groundball percentage, which was the best in the AL, and 12 of his outs against the Guardians were on groundouts.

“It’s easy to see the two-seam movement, but his curveball was so good, and he even threw a couple of changeups,” said Terry Francona, the manager of the Cleveland Indians. “But his changeup was great.”

This was the third no-hitter in the major leagues this season. Domingo Germán of the New York Yankees threw a perfect game at Oakland on June 28. On July 8, Matt Manning, Alex Lange, and Jason Foley of the Detroit Tigers combined to throw a no-hitter against Toronto.

It’s Houston’s first no-hitter in the regular season since Cristian Javier, Hector Neris, and Ryan Pressly all did it against the Yankees on June 25, 2022, and the first by a single pitcher since Verlander did it against Toronto on September 1, 2019.

The Astros traded for Verlander because they are trying to catch the Texas Rangers in the AL West race for first place. Tuesday, Texas beat the White Sox 2-0, giving them a half-game lead over Houston.

Baker thought it was cool that Valdez pitched the Astros’ first no-hitter since Verlander was traded back to Houston on the same day.

“It seemed like it was meant to be,” Baker said. “And I’m sure Justin is smiling on his way here, and when he gets here, he’ll be the first person to congratulate Framber. It’s a wonderful day!”

Javier also started Game 4 of last year’s World Series against the Phillies on November 2, 2022, which was a combined no-hitter. Also pitching in that game were Bryan Abreu, Rafael Montero, and Pressly.

In this game, Kyle Tucker hit a two-run single in the third inning, which helped the team score.

Before Oscar Gonzalez walked to start the fifth, Valdez got the first 12 batters out by striking them out. But because of that double play, Valdez only had to face two batters in that inning.

Arias hit a ground ball out before Straw’s lineout to start the sixth. The sixth inning ended when Gallagher grounded out.

In the seventh, Valdez got all three batters to ground out. The first two were straightforward. But José Ramrez hit a high chopper that Valdez deflected, and Pena’s throw to first just beat Ramrez there for the third out.

Valdez got Gonzalez to strike out to start the eighth, and David Fry and Will Brennan grounded out to end the inning.

In his last game, a 13-5 loss to Texas, he gave up eight hits and six runs, both of which were season highs. In this game, he only gave up one hit and one run.

Jake Meyers hit a single to start the third for Houston. After Maldonado struck out, Meyers tried to steal, but he was caught.

Jose Altuve hit a single, and Jeremy Pea walked. When Williams threw a wild pitch, both runners moved up a base.

Tucker then hit a single to center field, allowing both runners to come home and giving the Astros a 2-0 lead.

Gavin Williams, Cleveland’s first-year starter (1-3), gave up four hits and two runs in five innings, which led to the loss.

Josh Bell was supposed to play Tuesday for Cleveland but didn’t because the team made a last-minute deal to send him to Miami for infielder Jean Segura and infield prospect Kahlil Watson.

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