Houston Astros designated hitter Yordan Alvarez, who made an impressive return following a five-game absence while in MLB’s health and safety protocol, will aim for an encore on Tuesday against the visiting Los Angeles Angels.

Alvarez bashed a pair of two-run home runs and finished 3-for-5 with four RBIs in the Astros’ 8-3 victory over the Angels during Houston’s home opener on Monday.

“It was unbelievable,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said postgame. “He came back better than when he left. He was struggling a little bit when he left. He told me he was ready, so when says he’s ready I guess I’ve got to take his word, especially after tonight’s performance.”

Houston scored a total of 15 runs over the final seven games of its season-opening, nine-game road trip, with Alvarez sidelined for the final five games of that stretch. Following his return for the opener of a three-game set with the visiting Angels, all looked to be in place for the Astros.

“He really makes a difference,” Baker said. “He’s right in the middle, he usually has somebody on base, and when he hits them it’s usually a no-doubter.”

Houston left-hander Framber Valdez (1-0, 0.93 ERA) will make his third start of the season on Tuesday.

He walked five batters and allowed one run and two hits over three innings but did not factor into the decision in his most recent outing, a 3-2 Astros loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday. Valdez, 11-6 with a 3.14 ERA in 2021, is 7-3 with a 3.60 ERA over 12 career games (eight starts) against the Angels.

Left-hander Patrick Sandoval (0-0, 0.00 ERA) has the starting assignment for the Angels on Tuesday.

He worked four innings in his first start of the season, allowing three hits and one unearned run while walking three and fanning six in the Angels’ 4-3 win over the Miami Marlins on April 12.

Sandoval threw a career-high 87 innings last season, going 3-2 with a 3.62 ERA and one save. He is 0-3 with a 9.77 ERA in five career games (four starts) against the Astros, who selected Sandoval in the 11th round of the 2015 draft.

The Angels were without center fielder Mike Trout and third baseman Anthony Rendon in the series opener Monday. Trout was sidelined with a left hand contusion after being hit by a pitch in the fifth inning of Los Angeles’ series finale against the Texas Rangers on Sunday. X-rays were negative.

Angels manager Joe Maddon was unsure regarding when Trout might return to the lineup.

“I don’t know yet. He’s sore,” Maddon said. “His hand is sore. It’s in an awkward spot. That’s truly the old day-to-day situation.”

Rendon, out of the lineup on Sunday for rest, contracted a stomach illness that led to his being scratched against the Astros. A Houston native who starred locally at Rice University, Rendon had upwards of 100 seats reserved for family and friends before having to place a call to his parents to inform them that he was too sick to play.

“He had a ton of tickets out there and he’s not feeling good about that either,” Maddon said.

The Astros have their own fresh health concern, as second baseman Jose Altuve exited Monday’s game in the eighth inning because of a left hamstring strain. Altuve planned to undergo tests on his leg on Tuesday.

–Field Level Media