Division leaders Astros, Giants set to open interleague series

Fri Jul 30 7:07am ET

The leaders of the American and National League West will meet for the first time this season when the Houston Astros visit the San Francisco Giants on Friday in the opener a three-game series.

Astros left-hander Framber Valdez (6-2, 2.97) and Giants righty Kevin Gausman (9-4, 2.21) are the scheduled starters for teams that currently reside on opposite ends of the interleague spectrum.

The Astros enjoyed a day off Thursday after taking the final two games on a three-day trip to Seattle. They haven't played an interleague game since May 30, when they won for just the second time in seven tries against NL competition this season by defeating San Diego.

The Giants, meanwhile, have posted a 9-5 record in interleague play, which includes a 2-1 record against the rival Oakland Athletics. The Astros are battling the Athletics for the top spot in the AL West.

The Astros hosted the Giants for three games last August, with Houston taking two of three. Valdez and Gausman did not pitch in that series.

Valdez is coming off six innings of no-hit ball in a win over the Texas Rangers last Saturday. He was pulled after having throwing 99 pitches, with six walks escalating that count.

He has never gone head-to-head with the Giants in his career. He has a 1-2 record and 6.00 ERA in five interleague starts.

The Astros figure to have new relievers Kendall Graveman, Rafael Montero and Yimi Garcia available after they were acquired leading into Friday's trade deadline.

Houston ranks just 16th in the majors in bullpen ERA (4.14) and 20th in saves (23).

Astros general manager James Click noted his club could have even more reinforcements arriving in San Francisco by the weekend.

"I'm happy with the options that we've been able to provide for (manager Dusty Baker) so far, but our job is not done until (the deadline) on Friday," he said. "We're going to continue to look for more ways to improve the team."

Without making a trade, the Giants made a key addition to their lineup in Thursday's 5-0 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers when shortstop Brandon Crawford returned from a strained oblique.

Crawford gave the Giants a lead they did not relinquish with a two-out, two-run double in the first inning.

Having him back "was huge," Giants manager Gabe Kapler assured after the win, which allowed his team to take two of three in the showdown series. "I think he recognized how critical the at-bat was.

"We've had several of those moments come up over the course of the past 10 days and we haven't been able to capitalize on many of them. It was important to have Craw's presence in the game today. It was really nice having him back in the mix."

The Giants played without star catcher Buster Posey, who had to leave Wednesday's loss to the Dodgers after getting hit in the face mask with a foul ball.

Kapler said he spoke with the All-Star during Thursday's game and reported afterward, "We'll have one lineup with Buster in there and we'll have one lineup with (Curt) Casali in there. I'm optimistic (Posey will play)."

Gausman allowed six runs on eight hits with four walks in 4 1/3 innings in a 10-2 setback to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday.

He's gone 1-2 with a 4.91 ERA against the Astros in three career starts.

--Field Level Media