The Los Angeles Angels conceded the American League West to the Houston Astros some time ago and, given their recent play, they appear to be on the verge of losing any chance of competing for a wild-card berth as well. The Angels try to avoid a season-worst seventh straight defeat when they conclude their season series in Houston with the Astros on Sunday.
Los Angeles remained in an offensive funk in Saturday’s 6-2 loss, scoring three runs or fewer for the fifth time during their losing streak, as Justin Upton provided all the offense for the Angels with two solo homers. In addition to falling two games under .500 for the first time since Aug. 8, Los Angeles (76-78) dropped 4 1/2 games behind Minnesota for the AL’s second wild-card berth. Conversely, the Astros (95-59) won for the seventh time in eight contests to remain 1 1/2 games behind Cleveland for the AL’s best record, scoring all five of their fifth-inning runs after the first two batters were retired. “I can’t put my finger on it, but it’s definitely great. Anytime you can extend the inning, you’re never out until you are. … We’re just rolling,” catcher Evan Gattis, who belted a three-run homer to conclude the rally, told reporters
TV: 8:05 p.m. ET, ESPN
PITCHING MATCHUP: Angels LH Tyler Skaggs (2-6, 4.30 ERA) vs. Astros RH Lance McCullers Jr. (7-3, 3.97)
Skaggs fell to 1-5 since coming off the disabled list Aug. 5 after allowing two runs on eight hits in 5 1/3 frames against Cleveland on Tuesday. After going 0-3 with a 5.86 ERA over his first five turns, the 26-year-old Californian has been much sharper across his last three, posting a 2.45 ERA. Jose Altuve is 5-for-14 against Skaggs, who notched his only victory since his lengthy stint on the disabled list when he blanked Houston over seven innings on Sept. 13.
McCullers will make his first start since Sept. 6 due to arm fatigue and second since July 30 after dealing with a back injury. The All-Star, who is winless over his last six outings, did not factor in the decision in his last turn at Seattle nearly three weeks ago, when he permitted three runs in 5 1/3 frames. Albert Pujols is 4-for-20 with a home run and Mike Trout 1-for-15 with a homer against McCullers, who has allowed only one unearned run over 13 2/3 innings in two starts versus the Angels this season.
1. With its next victory, Houston will tie the 1986 team for the third-most wins in a single season in club history.
2. Trout’s next home run will allow him to join Alex Rodriguez, Jimmie Foxx, Jose Canseco and Joe DiMaggio as the only players in AL history to post four or more 30-homer campaigns before their age-26 season.
3. The Astros recorded three doubles Saturday to give them 326 in 2017, tying the single-season franchise mark.
PREDICTION: Astros 5, Angels 3