Astros host Angels looking for another series win

Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Astros say goodbye to a second straight American League West opponent this season with a three-game home series against the Los Angeles Angels starting Friday.

The American League’s top Astros (88-49) just wrapped up their regular-season schedule against the Texas Rangers with a 4-3 10-inning win on Wednesday. They won two of three against their in-state rival, but both victories came by just one run.

Houston went 14-5 against Texas this season and has a chance to tie that mark with a three-game sweep of the Angels.

The Astros and Angels recently met for three games in Anaheim, Houston winning two of three over the weekend. Houston picked up a 9-1 victory in Sunday’s series finale with Jose Altuve hitting a home run among his three hits.

The Astros will send right-hander Lance McCullers Jr. (2-1, 2.08 ERA) to the mound on Friday in a bid to improve on a road start against the Angels last week when he gave up two runs on six hits safe in 5 2/3 innings. , but struggled with his command walking with four batters.

“I think if it’s me with my not crispy stuff, I’m happy with it,” said McCullers, who made his fourth start of the season after returning from a forearm injury. “I’m not happy with the end lines and things like that, but for what I’m bringing to the table right now, it’s solid. I’m getting better and I’ll keep doing it, and when I do, it will click.

McCullers is 6-5 with a 3.02 ERA in 19 career starts against the Angels.

The Angels (60-77) are expected to counter with right-hander Michael Lorenzen (6-6, 4.94), who hasn’t pitched since July 1 with a right shoulder injury. He tried to push through the discomfort and allowed eight runs over three innings against the Astros in his last major league start.

In his last six starts before going on the injured list, Lorenzen was 1-5 with a 7.58 ERA.

“I knew his command was off,” Angels interim manager Phil Nevin said of Lorenzen’s last appearance. “You could tell he really didn’t have command of his two seamers like he normally does. Hitters can kind of lean into the plate with his slider, so the two-seam type prevents them from do it.

“Looking at the videos of his last two starts (from rehab), the control has been good. … We feel like he’s back where he was.

In four career appearances (two starts) against the Astros, Lorenzen is 0-2 with a 12.38 ERA.

The Angels could use help from anyone other than their superstar pair. Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani each homered on Wednesday, but the Angels lost a 5-4 decision to the visiting Detroit Tigers to prevent a three-game sweep.

Trout and Ohtani have homered eight times in the same game this season and done so twice in the series against the Tigers. Trout has 32 homers this season, while Ohtani has 33 in his bid for a second straight American League MVP award.

–Field level media

Brandon D. James