Angels need to get bats going against Astros
The Los Angeles Angels will need to find ways to score runs when they open a three-game series against the Houston Astros on Monday night at Angel Stadium.
The Astros (26-16) have allowed one run in each of their past four games to lower their league-leading ERA to 2.49. Houston hasn't allowed more than two runs in its past six games.
By comparison, the only major league team since 1989 with an ERA below 3.00 for an entire season was the 2015 St. Louis Cardinals (2.94).
The Angels (24-16) averaged seven runs per game while going 7-2 to start the month but combined for nine runs in the past three games against the Minnesota Twins. They salvaged a split of the four-game series with a walk-off 2-1 win on Sunday afternoon, keeping them a game behind first-place Houston in the American League West.
"We didn't have a lot going offensively until the end," Angels third baseman Zack Cozart told Fox Sports West after collecting the game-winning single Sunday.
Houston, which lost two of three to the visiting Angels last month, is 6-1 on the road against AL West teams this season.
Astros designated hitter Evan Gattis is 6-for-17 in his five-game hitting streak and has homered in each of the past two games.
"It's nice when we're all clicking on all cylinders, but we don't have to have nine guys absolutely hot to win," Gattis told reporters after Houston's second straight 6-1 win over the Texas Rangers on Sunday.
Houston starter Lance McCullers Jr. (5-1, 3.72 ERA) hasn't lost since April 6 and he'll try to join Corey Kluber of the Cleveland Indians and Luis Severino of the New York Yankees as the only six-game winners in the American League.
McCullers has been especially tough on the Angels in his four-year career. He's 3-1 in nine starts and his 1.78 ERA against Los Angeles is the lowest against any team he has faced more than once.
The Angels didn't face McCullers in Houston last month. The current members who have seen McCullers the most are all hitting below .200 against the right-hander.
Mike Trout, who wasn't in the starting lineup on Sunday but struck out as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning, is 2-for-17 against McCullers, Andrelton Simmons is 2-for-13, and Kole Calhoun and Albert Pujols are each 4-for-22.
Angels starter Andrew Heaney (1-2, 4.78) has been solid in his past three outings but has just one win to show for the performances.
He gave up one earned run in five innings against the New York Yankees on April 7 but did not get a decision in the 4-3 loss, then allowed one run in six innings on May 2 against the Baltimore Orioles before the Angels held on to win 10-7. He went another six innings on Tuesday at the Colorado Rockies and gave up two runs in taking the defeat in the 4-2 loss.
He has allowed just five hits in each of his past five starts.
Heaney pitched well against the Astros in his two appearances, both as a rookie in 2015, but did not receive a decision in either game.
Heaney made his Angels debut against the Astros on June 24, six months after he was traded by the Miami Marlins. He allowed one run and four hits in six innings and the Angels eventually won 2-1 in 13 innings.
Heaney faced the Astros again at Angel Stadium on Sept. 13, blanking them for five innings before Houston scored five runs in the top of the ninth to steal a 5-3 win.
Updated May 13, 2018