If there was any doubt whether their offense had found its groove, it was removed when the Houston Astros knocked around one of their biggest nemeses.
Now they'll face a another challenge against a pitcher that's given them trouble.
The Astros hope to keep coming through in key spots as it goes after a sixth win in eight games Tuesday night against Trevor Bauer and the visiting Cleveland Indians.
A lack of offense was at the root of Houston's problems when it batted .213 during a 5-14 stretch that left it in last place after making the playoffs in 2015. It also averaged 3.1 runs while hitting .186 with runners in scoring position in that span.
The Astros, however, have turned things around, scoring 6.4 per game and batting .354 with runners in scoring position in their last seven of this 10-game homestand.
Jose Altuve drove in three runs and Colby Rasmus had two RBIs as Houston knocked out Corey Kluber in the third inning of Monday's 7-1 win in the opener of this three-game series at Minute Maid Park. Kluber, who was coming off the second shutout of his career, entered with a 1.48 ERA in five meetings with the Astros.
"It was a big inning for us to ... get Kluber out of the game that early I think was the key to winning the game," said Altuve, who is 10 for 21 with eight RBIs in his last six games. "You don't want somebody like him staying in the game."
Rasmus has driven in eight in his past five games for Houston (13-20), which seeks its first three-game win streak of the season.
Bauer (2-0, 5.14 ERA) hasn't been sharp, but he's likely to remain in Cleveland's rotation after replacing the injured Carlos Carrasco. After allowing three runs over four innings in a 4-3 loss at Philadelphia on April 30, he surrendered three runs and three hits over 5 2/3 in Thursday's 9-4 home victory over Detroit.
The right-hander, though, is 3-0 with a 0.90 ERA and 29 strikeouts in three career starts against the Astros. He didn't allow a hit over six innings in his only outing at Minute Maid Park on April 9, 2015, but was pulled after 111 pitches and five walks.
Rasmus and Carlos Correa are 0 for 9 with five strikeouts when facing Bauer.
After a 5-1 homestand, the Indians dropped their fourth in a row on the road and sixth in seven games. They've totaled eight runs and batted .171 during the skid.
Mike Napoli has gone 2 for 25 with 16 strikeouts and Michael Brantley is 2 for 21 over their past six road games, while Yan Gomes is 2 for 35 in his last 10 overall. Francisco Lindor batted .433 over an eight-game stretch before going hitless in four at-bats Monday.
Houston manager A.J. Hinch made no promises to Chris Devenski (0-1, 1.46) when he tabbed the rookie right-hander to replace Scott Feldman in the rotation. After two solid outings, he's earned a longer look and will face Cleveland (15-14) for the first time.
Following six strong relief appearances, Devenski allowed two runs over five innings in a 2-0 loss at Oakland on April 30. He pitched even better Thursday, giving up one run and striking out six over six innings in a 6-3 home loss to Seattle.