Astros fans, this is the series we’ve all been waiting for. Astros vs. Angels, winner has the lead in the AL West heading into August. Scott Kazmir‘s 1st home start for the Astros, nationally televised on ESPN Wednesday night, Shane Victorino‘s Angels debut, this series has all the headlines that one could ask for. This series, like none before, could put the Astros back on the national stage and revitalize Houston as a baseball town.
The Los Angeles Angels enter this series with a slim, 1 game lead over the Houston Astros in the AL West. The Angels, with a 55-43 record, enter this series losing 3 out of their last 5 games, including a recent series loss to the Texas Rangers in Los Angeles. The Angels have a 5-5 record against the Astros so far this season, as the games have been very even in Houston and Los Angeles.
The Houston Astros come into this series off a series loss at Kansas City, which included Scott Kazmir’s shining Astros debut and first win on Friday night, an extra-innings loss on Saturday, and Dallas Keuchel getting roughed up a bit in a loss on Sunday afternoon. But, before the disappointing three games against the Royals, the Astros took 2 of 3 from the Rangers and then swept the Boston Red Sox at home. The Astros have a 33-17 record at home, but the Angels have a 14-6 record in July, so something has to give.
Tonight, the Astros will face a familiar foe in Wilson and the Angels could say the same for McHugh. The matchups to look forward to are Chris Carter vs. Wilson, Albert Pujols vs. Minute Maid Park, and Kole Calhoun vs. McHugh.
Carter is 9-27 against Wilson with two doubles and two home runs. Pujols has a .279 batting average at Minute Maid Park in his career and has hit the most all-time career home runs against the Astros. Calhoun is 6 for 18 against McHugh, which most Astros fans will take considering Mike Trout bats .182 against him.
Edge: Astros (Carlos Correa hammers lefties like Wilson)
Wednesday night’s nationally televised game should be a very entertaining one as it will be McCullers’ first home start against the Angels and Richards has been pitching very well in his last five starts. Once again, Altuve and Carter hit Richards very well. Other than that, there’s not much data for the Astros against Richards.
McCullers faced the Angels once in Los Angeles, where he pitched six innings while allowing only one run and striking out six. Of course, there won’t be much individual data. As much as I want to give the edge to the Astros in this one because it’s nationally televised, I think the Angels will win this one by a small margin. Richards has been pitching well, and there’s too much uncertainty with McCullers even though he’s been great for the Astros so far this season.
Game 3: Scott Kazmir vs Matt Shoemaker
In Kazmir’s home debut, I expect the pitcher with the lowest ERA in the AL to dominate. Kazmir will definitely be a bit nervous in his first home start for his hometown team, but he’s a professional and he will pitch just as well as he has been pitching so far this season.
Kazmir has never allowed a home run against the hitters on this Angels team, and Shoemaker was shelled the last time he faced the Astros. I see the Astros snatching the rubber match of this series and heading to a long road trip tied with the Angels for the lead in the American League West division.
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