HOUSTON – Having dropped three of their last four against the Baltimore Orioles at home, the Angels are looking to squeeze a few wins out of a road trip to Houston’s Minute Maid Park (poor pun intended). The Houston Astros (the newest members of the AL West Division) have received a less than warm reception from their new American League counterparts. And that’s putting it gently. The Astros are currently 8-23 (.258) and are 11.5 games back in a competitive AL West division that currently has their in-state rival Texas Rangers leading the league.
Looking at the numbers, the Astros have allowed 5.1 runs per game ranking them 28th in baseball. Their 8 wins and 23 losses ranks them 30th in MLB. Houston has also posted a 4.68 team ERA which ranks them 28th – sound familiar, Angel fans? If Jerry DiPoto hasn’t sent a “Thank You” card to Commissioner Bud Selig for shipping the Astros west, he probably should. The Halos would be in dead last in the division if it wasn’t for Houston coming over during a period of rebuilding. I often wonder – imagine if the Houston Astros and Miami Marlins played in the same division? First to the bottom wins! Sorry, I digress.
It’s evident that the Angels are licking their wounds after three frustrating losses at the Big A against Buck Showalter‘s black birds. The Halos 11 wins and 19 losses rank them 26th in MLB. Mike Scioscia and company desperately need to add to the win column – and a three game series at Houston couldn’t come at a better time.
Now this all comes with a caveat: the Astros are a team that can surprise from time to time. When they aren’t striking out, Jose Altuve, Marwin Gonzalez, and Ronny Cedeno can all hit (anyone remember ESPN’s Opening Night Baseball when the Astros beat up on the Texas Rangers 8-2?). With an unreliable rotation and an inconsistent offense, the Angels best not take this team (or any team for that matter) lightly.
Notes: The Angels are still without ace Jared Weaver and closer Ryan Madson. To add insult to injury, CF Peter Bourjos is still out with a hamstring injury. Triple-A call up J.B. Shuck has filled in nicely in LF as Mike Trout was shifted into center. Granted Trout is a center fielder by trade, but does anyone else get the feeling that he could play just about anywhere?
Game One: C.J. Wilson (3-0, 4.04 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound Tuesday against Jordan Lyles (0-0, 3.6). Lyles is appearing in only his second start of the season. Game time: Tuesday, May 7, 8:10 PM EDT, Minute Maid Park.
Game Two: Joe Blanton (0-5, 5.97 ERA) is scheduled to start against Bud Norris (3-3, 3.89 ERA) in the second game of the series. Although most fans cringe before he takes the hill, Blanton has thrown two recent quality starts without a win.
Game Three: Jason Vargas is probable against the Astros Lucas Harrell in the rubber match on Thursday. Vargas is 1-3 and has lowered his ERA from 6.75 to 3.72 – his recent complete game shut-out against the Orioles was encouraging after a series of rough starts to begin the season.