Chicago White Sox (40-39) at Houston Astros (42-37)
Friday, July 01 - 8:10 PM EST
Minute Maid Park, Houston, Texas
Houston begins a 10-game homestand with three in a row starting Friday against the Chicago White Sox and no one is hotter - and more durable - than the Astros' Jose Altuve. The diminutive second baseman, who has played in 170 consecutive contests, is riding an 11-game hitting streak in which he is batting .444 with three homers, eight RBIs, 13 runs scored and a .490 on-base percentage while also enjoying a career-high on-base streak of 32 contests.
"He is a little tired, believe it or not," Houston manager A.J. Hinch told reporters about the 26-year-old Venezuelan, who stands 5-6 and weighs 165 pounds, and leads the majors with a .357 batting average and 111 hits. "He came in to talk about it (Wednesday) and we didn't connect, and luckily we didn't make the decision to take him out of the lineup. It's almost impossible not to play him. At some point this homestand, I'll have to give him a day off, maybe two, because he's going to have a busy All-Star break. But if he continues to go like this, players don't want to come out very often." The Astros have won 10 of their last 11 games and 12 of 14 since June 14, but trail the equally red-hot Texas Rangers in the American League West by 8 1/2 while gaining only one game during that stretch. Chicago has won three of its last four games after completing a 4-2 homestand with Thursday's 6-5 victory over Minnesota. Houston's Mike Fiers is unbeaten in his last five starts (2-0) and opposes Miguel Gonzalez, who has alternated solid outings with poor ones over his last four turns.
TV: 8:10 p.m. ET, CSN Chicago, ROOT (Houston)
PITCHING MATCHUP: White Sox RH Miguel Gonzalez (1-3, 5.17 ERA) vs. Astros RH Mike Fiers (5-3, 4.41)
Gonzalez allowed eight runs (career-high eight earned) and a career-high 10 hits in 5 1/3 innings of a 10-8 loss to Toronto on Saturday and is 0-2 with a 9.39 ERA in his last three starts. The 32-year-old Mexican earned a no-decision in his previous outing, when he permitted a run and four hits in 6 2/3 innings of Chicago's 3-1 victory at Boston on June 20. George Springer is 4-for-9 with two solo home runs while Altuve is 2-for-11 against Gonzalez, who is 1-3 with a 3.60 ERA in five starts versus Houston after a 3-1 loss last June 3 in which he struck out eight in 6 2/3 innings.
Fiers received a no-decision after yielding three runs (two earned) and nine hits in 4 1/3 innings of the Astros' 13-5 victory in Kansas City on Saturday. The 31-year-old Florida native won his previous two starts, allowing two runs in 12 2/3 innings in victories over Cincinnati and at Tampa Bay. Todd Frazier is 5-for-18 with two home runs, five RBIs and four strikeouts against Fiers, who didn't earn a decision in two starts versus the White Sox, allowing two runs and striking out 14 in 13 2/3 innings.
1. Frazier hit his 23rd home run of the season Thursday, moving him into a tie for the major-league lead with Baltimore's Mark Trumbo. It was the White Sox's 14th consecutive solo shot - one shy of the team record set in 1965.
2. Altuve, whose on-base streak is the longest by an Astro since Lance Berkman's 37-game run in 2004, had four hits and four runs scored Wednesday to join Craig Biggio (four times) and Joe Morgan (twice) as the only Astros second baseman to accomplish the feat.
3. Chicago LF Melky Cabrera (.294, eight home runs, 39 RBIs) is expected to miss his third straight game Friday because of a sprained right wrist.
PREDICTION: Astros 3, White Sox 2