Houston Astros (50-96) vs. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (70-76), 7:10 p.m. (CT)

Tom Szczerbowski

Astros return home to face the Angels; Keuchel hopes to keep winning streak alive.

Los Angeles of Anaheim at Houston, 7:10 p.m. (CT)

TV: CSN Houston, MLB.TV 
Radio: KBME 790 AM, KLAT 1010 AM
Angels SBNation Blog: Halos Heaven

Pitching Match

LHP Jason Vargas ( 8-6 / 3.76 ERA / 1.42 WHIP) vs. LHP Dallas Keuchel (5-9 / 4.99 ERA / 1.53 WHIP)

Preview

The first thing that came to mind when I was confronted with the idea of the Astros moving west was the late games. The second thing that popped into my head was the idea that the Astros had gotten away from Albert Pujols and that he was back like the plague. The Angels compounded the problem by drafting wisely and signing another Astros-killer Josh Hamilton.

As the 2013 season unfolded, the Angels went from murder-row to the abominable snowman without his teeth like in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Anaheim's lineup was not able to keep up with their subpar pitching rotation; the Angel's season can be summed up by their 7 - 9 record against the Astros this season.

Even without Albert the Great in the lineup, the Angels have come alive at the end of the season - winners in 15 of last 20 games and 12 of 14 on the road. The Angels are of course lead by Mike Trout, who is batting .368 (32-87) with a .495 OPS. Fangraphs has Trout at the exact same WAR he had in his near MVP season in 2012 - 9.9 in 2013 compared to 10.0 in 2012. Josh Hamilton has finally overcome his struggles at the start of the season, he is batting .344 (33 - 96) and 11 extra-base hits over his last 30 days. This comes after four months batting under .250 to start the season. Rookie Kole Calhoun has been a nice addition to the Angels' lineup, batting .412 (14-34) with 10 RBIs in his last ten starts. Mark Trumbo has finally woken up as well after a tough stretch from June to August where he batted .209. Trumbo is batting .341 (14-41) with four home runs in last ten games.

Jason Vargas takes the mound for the second time this season against the Astros since he had a blood clot removed from his arm. He has a 4.09 ERA since returning to the rotation, if you remove hi woeful start against Tampa Bay on September 3 - his ERA is 3.10 in those five starts. Vargas has a 1.57 WHIP in his starts since returning. In his second start back, he faced the Astros on August 18. The Astros put up three runs over 5.1 innings against Vargas on seven hits.

Expect Jose Altuve's hot streak to continue with Vargus on the mound, he has three hits in six at-bats against the left-hander. Matt Dominguez has wrecked Vargus thus far in his career, batting .800 (4-5) with three runs batted in. L.J. Hoes was 2-for-3 in thier last meeting, including a solo home run.

On the mound today for the Astros is Dallas Keuchel. The Arkansas product hasn't had much success as a starter since rejoining the rotation on August 11. Over his last five starts he has a 5.10 ERA over 30 innings pitched. He's sprinkled in a few gems, seven scoreless innings against the Blue Jays and a quality start against the Mariners on August 31. In his most recent start, he was hit around by the Athletics, giving up five runs over 3.1 innings of work.


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