It was merely a month ago when the Houston Astros came to Anaheim for a four-game set. Four games where the Angels couldn’t win one. Not. One. Swept by the Astros. At home no less. The thought of that series weighed heavy on Angels fans minds as the series in Houston got underway tonight. Will the Angels be able to figure out a team that is less difficult then Pre-Algebra? Or will their 3-7 record against the Astros get worse? The Angels still couldn’t figure out Bud Norris, but he’s been like Advanced Calculus with no textbook when facing the Angels. The Angels did figure out the Astros bullpen however, and walked out of the ballpark tonight with a four-game winning streak and a little more confidence heading into tomorrow night.
The game was a close, hard fought game between both Norris and Angels starter Jerome Williams while the two starters were in the game. Both of which only having a single blemish upon their night of work.
The Astros got on the board first in the fourth inning. Jason Castro touched up Williams with a big fly to right-center field, his 11th of the season. A couple of innings later, Norris let the Angels back into the game. A Mike Trout single to center field brought home Erick Aybar to knot the game up at one apiece.
After Williams departed during the seventh, and Norris exited after the seventh, a battle of the bullpens ensued. And tonight, it was the Angels bullpen that was a lockdown unit, while the Astros bullpen ran into an Angels offense that has been churning out runs as well as Jim-Bob and Michelle Duggar churn out children. Of course, this didn’t happen without a little help from the Astros top notch defense.
Hank Conger led off the eighth inning with a ringing double that would have been a home run in any other ballpark. Mike Scioscia replaced Conger with Peter Bourjos (still nursing a sore thumb) to add roughly two or three leaps of speed to the basepaths. Erick Aybar followed that up with a walk, and J.B. Shuck lifted a routine fly to medium center field. Well, routine on any other day. Bourjos tagged up and took third. Aybar followed him by taking second and an errant throw from Ronny Cedeno as the cutoff man allowed Bourjos to scamper home, giving the Angels a 2-1 lead.
The Angels struck again in the ninth when Aybar roped a single to right field, driving in both Mark Trumbo and Josh Hamilton, pushing the score to 4-1. Ernesto Frieri made it interesting in the bottom half, allowing a run even though it felt like he put 17 men on base. He closed it out by striking out Marc Krauss looking, and sending Angels fans happily to Twitter.
The series continues tomorrow night at 1:10 PM PST when Joe Blanton takes on Jordan Lyles in the second game of this three-game set. Blanton hasn’t been terrible lately. So, yes, I’m saying there’s a chance. Light up the halo and will someone please tell Scioscia that Hank Conger needs to start more games. Like, a lot more games.