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Astros: Game 73 Preview-Angels

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Jun 17, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers (43) delivers a pitch during the second inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 17, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers (43) delivers a pitch during the second inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /
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Is a three-game series sweep of the Angels at hand for the Astros?

Carlos Correa is becoming Mr. Clutch for the Astros. His three walk-off hits in 2016 are definitely fueling some of the Astros momentum. Not to mention that is also leading baseball. This is fitting for a city that prides itself on being known as “Clutch City”.

Now sitting at 36-36, the Astros are on the cusp of being technically a winning team again in 2016. At a certain point just a few weeks ago, that looked rather unlikely. And while the Astros could easily backslide into losing territory, the recent results have suggested otherwise.

Game 3: RHP Lance McCullers (3-2, 4.24 ERA) vs. Matt Shoemaker (3-7, 4.50 ERA)

Leading the way this afternoon for the Astros is Lance McCullers, who is aiming for his fifth win of the season. In his last start, McCullers surrendered two runs and eight hits over 6.2 innings against the Cincinnati Reds. While it was a solid performance, he ended up with the no-decision as the Astros failed in extra innings.

The Astros offense will get to see the resurgent Mike Shoemaker. The Angels right-hander has shorts fly become one of the top pitchers in baseball as of late so don’t let his record fool you. Over the course of his past six starts, he has struck out 55 while only allowing two walks! Yes, you read that right.

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Once again, the Astros offense will be tested. We all know that the Astros can strike out at a high rate, and if Shoemaker’s resurgence continues then that could be the case at Minute Maid Park this afternoon. In those previous six starts, Shoemaker has only given up more two runs just once.

Shoemaker’s split finger fastball has been the primary pitch of choice in 2016. In fact, he has thrown it 32.36% of the time out of his total pitches thrown in 2016. So the Astros will either need to take advantage of his other offerings, or figure out to hit an effective splitter.

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Regardless, the Astros have a tough task in front of them to earn the sweep and finally be above .500 once again. But like anything good in life, you have to work for it. The Astros have their work cut out for them today.

**Statistics provided by Baseball-Reference and Brooks Baseball**

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