Houston at Los Angles (AL), 9:10 CT
TV: CSN Houston
Radio: KBME 790
Angels SBNation Blog: Halos Heaven
RHP Bud Norris (1-1 / 3.18 ERA / 1.32 WHIP) vs. RHP Tommy Hanson (1-0 / 4.50 ERA / 1.00 WHIP)
Baseball can be a very funny game. The Angels, the predicted winners of the AL West, come in on a four game losing streak after being swept by the Athletics at home. On the other hand, the Astros have won two straight games and put 24 runs the scoreboard over that stretch of time. Not to say the Astros are the better team right now, but more that a 162-game season creates unique situations such as this. This is the first time these two teams have met since 2007, where the Angels took two out of three against the Astros.
Opening Night starter, Bud Norris, makes his third start in Anaheim. Norris is 3-1 with a 1.46 ERA over his last 4 starts dating back to last year. Dealing with a drop in velocity, he still has a devastating slider. Chris Perry has a more in-depth look at Norris' slider. Norris will be looking to improve upon his last outing were he gave up 3 ER in over 5.2 innings.
The Astros batters came to life in Seattle, a rookie in his second starter and pitcher that works the zone without a live fastball will do that. The Astros are batting .436 over the past two games. Chris Carter has lead the way with 6 hits and 3 homeruns over that same time period. Rick Ankiel has had some success against Tommy Hanson with a homerun and 2 RBIs.
Taking the mound for the Angels is Tommy Hanson. Hanson spent last season reworking his delivery to stay healthy, he was successful in this venture. Unfortunately, staying healthy it's the only measure for a major league pitcher. Hanson's performance in 2012 (13-10 / 4.48 ERA / 1.45 WHIP) devolved his status in Atlanta from cornerstone to expendable. Hanson got the win in his only start this year, giving up three runs, striking out four, and walking none against Texas.
The Angels are batting .224 during this most recent four-game slide. Of course this isn't effecting Albert Pujols, he is leading the team in homeruns (2), OBP (.463), and (.600). Now he gets the Astros, his old punching bag. That said, Pujols had a terrible time with Bud Norris - in 26 at-bats Pujols has a .192 average. Josh Hamiliton has gotten off to rough start and appears to be pulling off the ball too early (at least from what I could tell in the games against Texas). Mike Trout has come back down to earth and is batting in the two-hole instead of his normal leadoff spot.