Cooled off along the Pacific Ocean over the weekend, the Houston Astros will return home, where they have been known to turn on the heat. A four-game series against the Los Angeles Angels begins Monday.
The Astros were swept in a three-game series in San Diego against the upstart Padres, but in the cozy confines of Minute Maid Park they have won six consecutive games. Houston was on an eight-game winning streak overall upon arrival in San Diego.
The Angels will arrive in Houston after losing two of three at Oakland over the weekend. Whether it be home or away, the Angels have failed to gain any traction this season under new manager Joe Maddon. Los Angeles has lost nine of its last 11 games after falling 5-4 to the A’s on Sunday in 10 innings.
The Angels’ Shohei Ohtani did hit a three-run home run Sunday, ending an 0-for-19 spell.
When the Astros and Angels met in Anaheim, Calif., July 31-Aug. 2, the Astros won the opener and the finale in the three-game series, while the Angels earned the victory in the middle game. Each of the last two games went to extra innings.
The Angels’ Albert Pujols hit a grand slam in the Aug. 2 game, and hit another home run a day later against the Mariners, but he has just three extra-base hits in 10 games since without a homer.
Pujols does have 60 career home runs against the Astros, the most by any Houston opponent. He was not in the Angels’ lineup Saturday or Sunday.
“If you’re writing that lineup down yourself, I’m sure you’d write it the same way,” Maddon told reporters Sunday.
The Astros are scheduled to send left-hander Framber Valdez (2-2, 1.72 ERA) to the mound in the series opener. He has won his past two starts. Most recently, he gave up three runs, just one earned, over 7 2/3 innings Wednesday as the Astros defeated the Colorado Rockies.
On Aug. 2, Valdez gave up one run on five hits over 6 1/3 innings with eight strikeouts but was left with a no-decision against the Angels. He is 3-2 lifetime against the Angels with a 2.78 ERA in seven appearances (three starts).
The Astros will take the field at home without third baseman Alex Bregman, who is out for the next three weeks with a strained right hamstring. Right-hander Chase De Jong was added to the Astros’ bullpen Sunday.
After a slow start, Jose Altuve had four consecutive multi-hit games before going 0-for-4 on Sunday. He has struck out 23 times this season, but has none in his past five games.
“I think it’s a combination of a lot of things: Good positioning, good pitches to hit, good approach and just be patient and wait for your pitch,” Altuve told reporters Sunday.
The Angels are expected to send left-hander Patrick Sandoval (0-3, 5.40) to the mound. He is coming off a pair of rough starts, giving up a combined nine earned runs in 10 innings in losses to the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers.
Sandoval had two starts against the Astros in his rookie season of 2019, going 0-1 with a 5.68 ERA.
The four-game series is the only meeting between the teams at Houston this season. The Astros were 7-2 against the Angels at Houston last season.
–Field Level Media