Almost 11 years later, the two teams renew acquaintances for a three-game Interleague series starting on Friday night at now Minute Maid Park. Ubaldo Jimenez will take the mound for the Tribe against Lucas Harrell as Cleveland tries to even the all-time series at eight games apiece.
The Astros will hope that Harrell (6-5, 5.07 ERA) can follow the lead of Jordan Lyles and pitch deep into the game to help a scuffling bullpen. Houston's relievers were ranked among the top three in the National League in ERA for the first two months of the season, but have a 7.27 ERA (63 earned runs in 78 innings pitched) since May 26. The Astros are 6-18 in that span.
"You just hope the factors of the starters not going very deep hopefully doesn't last that long," manager Brad Mills said. "When the starters don't go very long, that's going to happen. Your bullpen has enough rest they can pick them up now and then, but when the bullpen starts to struggle it's up to the starters to pick them up."
On Wednesday, Lyles toiled for seven innings and gave up two runs on three hits in a 2-1 loss to the Royals. The bullpen followed with two scoreless innings.
Harrell sports an 8.37 ERA over his last four starts, although three of those outings were on the road. The righty is 4-0 with a 2.76 mark in five home starts.
Jimenez (6-5, 5.00) will try to help the Indians fend off the White Sox for first place in the AL Central. Cleveland holds a half-game lead after sweeping Cincinnati in the Ohio Cup.
The righty put together consecutive one-run starts before allowing four runs in six innings on Saturday against the Pirates. He served up two home runs, including Casey McGehee's two-run shot in the sixth, but struck out six while walking two.
"I only made one mistake, and they made me pay for it," Jimenez said after the game.
Indians: Give it a rest
Jason Kipnis started 66 of the Indians' first 67 games at second base, and entered in the third inning of the one that he didn't start. But manager Manny Acta held Kipnis out of the lineup on Wednesday against the Reds.
"We are all Kipnisses, but we have to take care of him," Acta quipped before the game.
Kipnis was coming off consecutive 0-for-4 games against Cincinnati, but was still hitting .276 with a .771 OPS for the season.
After his walk-off homer against the Reds' Aroldis Chapman on Tuesday, shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera followed with a three-run shot in the fourth inning of Wednesday's 8-1 victory. It came off Reds starter Bronson Arroyo.
Left fielder Johnny Damon had an interesting box score line Wednesday with two hits in two at-bats, two runs scored, two RBIs and two walks, all while seeing 22 pitches.
Astros: Trying a new spot
Shortstop Jed Lowrie batted sixth for only the second time this season on Wednesday, coming on the heels of a 2-for-28 skid. Mills said the change had mainly to do with the switch-hitting Lowrie's struggles from the right side.
Lowrie was hitting .294 left-handed, but only .196 right-handed before going 1-for-2 with an RBI infield single against Royals lefty Bruce Chen. Lowrie has performed much better from the right side for his career, with a .304 average and .876 OPS before Wednesday.
Lowrie, who has hit mostly second or third in the lineup, will be back to the left side on Friday against Jimenez. He leads all Major League shortstops in home runs (13) and slugging percentage (.498).
Outfielder Justin Maxwell entered Wednesday with five home runs in June, tied for second in the NL, and had a .592 slugging percentage this month. But he exited the series finale against the Royals with a left ankle sprain and was replaced in center by Jordan Schafer.
Jimenez is 3-0 with a 2.27 ERA in five starts against the Astros and 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA in three starts at Minute Maid Park, but Carlos Lee, Schafer and Chris Snyder are the only current Houston players to have faced him.
The Indians are starting a 10-game road trip against the Astros, Yankees and Orioles. Cleveland is 16-14 away from home this season.