Los Angeles Angels (36-43) vs Houston Astros (30-49)
Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas
The Houston Astros continue to play .500 baseball over the last month and a half. As a beaten-down Astro fan, I’ll take mediocrity any day! They come into this series having split a two game set with the St. Louis Cardinals. Houston has won eight of its last 15 games, and taken seven of ten from the Angels this season. The last time the Astros faced the Angels, they swept a four game series in Anaheim.
The LA Angels may have finally started to right the ship. They are fresh off of a three game sweep of the Detroit Tigers, outscoring them by a combined score of 24-13. The Halos have managed to win nine of their last 15 games, and three of their last four series. Now they travel to Houston for the second time this season, hoping to continue their recent success and turn things around against the AL West cellar-dweller.
This season, Jerome Williams has bounced back-and-forth between the starting rotation and the bullpen. He is currently taking the injured Jason Vargas‘ spot in the rotation. He was roughed up in his last start, allowing five runs in six innings to the Pirates. Williams faced the Astros on June 1st and received a tough-luck loss, throwing seven innings and allowing just two runs on three hits.
Bud Norris has been to the Angels what he was to the Cardinals — superior. In three starts against the Angels, Norris is 3-0 and has thrown 21 innings while allowing just one run on sixteen hits. While his 6.25 K/9 rate is the lowest of his career, his 2.94 BB/9 and 0.66 HR/9 are also the lowest of his career. The fact that he’s using his changeup nearly twice as much as he did last season could have a lot to do with those numbers.
Joe Blanton’s season started out disastrous. Over the past month, he has seen his numbers improve and has slowly become what the Angels hoped he would be. Though he hasn’t collected any wins, five of Blanton’s last six starts have been quality. He last faced Houston on June 3rd, pitching eight innings and allowing just two runs on three hits, yet he was still tagged with his ninth loss. He struck out eleven Astros in that outing.
I wish I could get Jordan Lyles’ last start out of my head. While he definitely wasn’t at his best, Houston’s defense completely failed him during a horribly ugly game in Chicago. Despite allowing five earned runs in five innings versus the Cubs, Jordan is still 2-1 with a 2.84 ERA for the month of June. He is 2-0 with a 4.41 ERA in two starts against the Angels this season.
C.J. Wilson is having a vintage C.J. Wilson season. He continues to eat up innings and put his team in a position to win games. Wilson is 1-2 against the Astros this season, posting a 2.81 ERA in 19.2 innings pitched. The veteran left-hander has won his last three starts while facing the Tigers, Mariners and Yankees.
For the fourth time this season, Lucas Harrell was knocked around by an opponent. Walks, again, were an issue for Harrell, giving four Cardinals free passes on Tuesday. Two of the three games that the Astros dropped to the Angels this season were starts by Lucas. The last time he faced the Halos, he threw five innings and allowed two runs on four hits while walking six.