After a rough two weeks, the visiting Houston Astros can win their first series in four tries when they face the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim, Calif., on Wednesday afternoon.
The Astros ended a three-game losing streak, which matched their longest of the season, with a hard-fought 3-1 victory over the Angels on Tuesday. Los Angeles won the series opener 6-4 on Monday.
In a Tuesday pitchers’ duel, Astros left-hander Framber Valdez went eight innings and got the best of Angels right-hander Shohei Ohtani, who lasted seven.
Houston’s only negative was losing second baseman Mauricio Dubon to a left hamstring strain in the fifth inning. The injury is not expected to be serious, and Dubon was hopeful afterward that he would avoid a stint on the injured list.
Valdez struck out 12, one off his career best established against the Angels last July, and Martin Maldonado hit a two-run home run against his former team. The Astros handed Ohtani his first loss of the season.
“It felt good to contribute to the offense, especially after we lost three in a row,” Maldonado said. “We felt like it was a must-win game against a tough pitcher. We had a good game plan going.”
Houston lost two of three games in consecutive series against the Philadelphia Phillies, Seattle Mariners and San Francisco Giants. That stretch began after they won two of three at Tampa Bay, handing the Rays their second series loss of the season.
Right-hander Cristian Javier (2-1, 3.54 ERA) will take the mound for the Astros on Wednesday. Javier is winless over his past three starts but had 10 strikeouts in a no-decision against the Atlanta Braves on April 23 and eight strikeouts in a no-decision against the Mariners on Friday.
Javier is 3-1 with a 2.59 ERA in eight career appearances (four starts) against the Angels.
The Angels will counter with right-hander Griffin Canning (2-0, 5.31 ERA), who has won each of his past two outings but has yet to pitch more than 5 1/3 innings in a game this season. In four career starts against the Astros, Canning is 0-1 with a 9.22 ERA. He last faced Houston on April 24, 2021, when he gave up six runs in 2 1/3 innings.
After a season-best, five-game winning streak, the Angels have lost three of their past four and their catching situation keeps getting worse. Los Angeles already was without Max Stassi (hip) and Logan O’Hoppe (shoulder), and Chad Wallach landed on the seven-day concussion injured list on Tuesday.
Chris Okey made his Angels debut behind the plate on Tuesday, catching Ohtani for the first time. Matt Thaiss is likely to be Canning’s catcher on Wednesday.
The Angels managed just three hits on Tuesday, but one was the first career home run for rookie shortstop Zach Neto.
“That was a nice moment,” Angels manager Phil Nevin said. “(It’s) like when you hit your first Little League home run, you have a hard time keeping the smile off your face. … I’m not even sure that was one of the pitches (Valdez) missed because that was a down-and-in fastball that (Neto) was able to pull his hands inside.”
–Field Level Media