HOUSTON ASTROS (17-37) VS LOS ANGELES ANGELS (25-29)
ANGEL STADIUM OF ANAHEIM IN ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA
The Houston Astros are playing at their best right now. They’ve won two of their last three series, and have gone 7-7 in their last 14 games. I guess you could say that over the last 14 games, the Astros have been an average MLB team…that’s definitely an improvement! During their four game home-and-home series with the Rockies, the pitching was the difference, posting a 2.77 ERA over 39 innings. Now they have the opportunity to continue that success against the team that they’ve had the second-most wins against in the AL West.
The battle of the overpaid LA teams ended the way one would expect. The LA Angels and Dodgers split the four-game series and stayed on pace to disappoint the few die-hards in Orange and Los Angeles Counties. The Angels had started to reel off some wins against some sub-par clubs; taking eight straight from the Chicago White Sox (who just got swept by the Cubs), the Seattle Mariners and the Kansas City Royals (both of which the Astros have dominated) before the Freeway Series. So far the Astros-Angels season record is 3-3 with each team winning one series.
Dallas Keuchel has not been very good. In four 2013 starts, he has allowed 17 runs in 24.1 innings. His one quality start this season came against the Texas Rangers back on May 10th. He has one appearance against the Angels this season, going 1.1 inning and allowing one run in relief.
Tommy Hanson is making his first start in three weeks. He had to take time away from the team to cope with the loss of his step-brother. In the three starts prior to his absence, Hanson was 1-0 with a 2.12 ERA. In his one start against the Astros this year, Hanson threw five innings and allowed five runs while striking out just two and took the loss.
Bud Norris has made two bad starts this season–both of which came on the road. Through two starts against the Angels, Norris looks like he is to the Angels what he was to the St. Louis Cardinals in years past. He is 2-0 with just one run allowed in 15 innings pitched. Those were his two best starts of the season, and I’m pretty sure that the April 12th start in Anaheim was his best road start in a stadium not called Busch.
Since joining the rotation on May 5th, Jerome Williams has gone 3-1 with a 3.19 ERA. He has filled in nicely for Jared Weaver, but will likely head back to the bullpen after this start. He uses a good mixture of his fastball, curveball, cutter and changeup to keep opposing hitters off balance. In 2013, Williams is holding hitters to a .226 average while posting a 1.13 WHIP and a 3.41 FIP.
Jordan Lyles looks like he may have blossomed into the pitcher that the Astros thought he could be when they drafted him in the first round of the 2008 draft. In his last three starts, Lyles is 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA. In fact, if you take away that May 12th start against the Rangers, Lyles would be 2-0 with a 2.57 ERA in five starts. On May 7th, he recorded his first win of the season, holding the Angels to three runs in five innings while striking out six.
C.J. Wilson is coming off of his worst start of the season, allowing six runs in 4.2 innings to the Dodgers. He has faced the Astros twice this season–winning one and losing the other. Back on May 7th in Houston, Wilson allowed two runs by way of solo home runs, pitched 6.1 innings and took the hard-luck loss.
In Erik Bedard’s four starts since returning to the rotation, he has thrown 22 innings and posted a 3.27 ERA while striking out 18. This season Bedard is 0-2 with a 7.33 ERA in six road starts. If the veteran lefty can continue to pitch the way he has in his last four starts, he will be giving the Astros exactly what they had hoped for.
Joe Blanton has been the weakest link in the Angels’ rotation. Out of his eleven 2013 starts, only four have been good enough to be considered “quality”. One such quality start came back on May 8th in Houston. In that start, Blanton threw 6.2 innings, allowed three runs and recorded the loss. His last time out he pitched seven innings, allowed three runs and lost to the Dodgers.