Morton, Astros open home series vs. Indians

Morton, Astros open home series vs. Indians

Two of the American League's top teams will meet for a three-game set beginning Friday night, when the Astros host the Indians at Minute Maid Park in Houston.

This will mark the second time that the two teams will meet for a three-game series this season, as Cleveland won two of three in April at Progressive Field. With the thrilling nature of that series -- two of the games were decided by one run, and the other by two -- and the potential that both teams boast, Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor said that the Tribe has to take advantage of its off-day on Thursday to prepare for Houston.

"You have to make sure you rest, and then it is go time after that," Lindor said. "It is just another series. They are playing the game the right way and they are a very good team, so we have to make sure that we bring our A game. ... You just have to play the game the right way and go hard against the team like that. They are playing really well, and they have good hitters."

Trevor Bauer will be tasked with facing those hitters, as the Indians' right-hander is scheduled to make his eighth start of the season. Bauer is coming off his third win after allowing three runs on seven hits with seven strikeouts against the Twins.

After Bauer defeated the Astros on April 26 with a six-inning, 108-pitch effort, he will look to keep his perfect record against Houston intact. In six career starts against the Astros, Bauer has gone 6-0 with a 2.61 ERA with 46 strikeouts in 38 innings.

The Astros will give the nod to Charlie Morton, who will make his ninth start of the season. In his last outing, the right-hander allowed four runs on four hits and four walks, but struck out 10 in 5 2/3 innings against the Yankees to pick up his fifth win. Morton will make only his second career start against the Indians. His only start vs. the Tribe came on July 3, 2015, where he allowed three runs on four hits with 12 strikeouts in six innings en route to a 5-2 loss.

Three things to know about this game

• Before Wednesday's 7-4 loss to the Rays, Lindor reflected on his relationship with Astros shortstop Carlos Correa. The two Puerto Rican stars have known each other since they were in high school, and Lindor said he is looking forward to talking with Correa during batting practice on Friday.

"I wish him nothing but the best," Lindor said of Correa. "I want him to win every game if they can win every game. But as soon I am playing against him, he's not allowed with my team. But it is just fun competing against a guy like that."

• Astros catcher Brian McCann was given the day off for Wednesday's game against the Marlins, but he will likely return to the lineup on Friday due to his career success against Bauer. In 17 at-bats against the Cleveland right-hander, McCann has collected five hits -- including two homers and a double -- and six RBIs with a 1.056 OPS.

• According to Statcast, 28 of Morton's 54 strikeouts have come on his curveball, and 27 of those have been swinging. That total ranks third in the Majors for curves or knuckle-curves, though it's second on the Astros behind MLB leader Lance McCullers.

William Kosileski is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.