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Series Preview: Houston Astros Los Angeles Angels, July 28-31, 2015

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This is a big one.

Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Series Preview: Houston Astros Los Angeles Angels, July 28-31, 2015

Astros and Angels. 55 wins each. One game apart in the AL West standings. The Astros looking up at the Angels after leading the division for a few month. The old guard in Los Angeles hasn't let go of their hold of the division so easily. Mike Trout and Albert Pujols have drive the Angels offense while the halos' staff has held up. They now have added the flyin hawaiian Shane Victorino in the fold to add depth to the Angels roster.

The Astros are still riding the high of getting Scott Kazmir this past week. He will take the mound on Thursday. Before that the Astros sent out Collin McHugh and Lance McCullers in game one and two. But I would suspect the Astros lineup may look different before the week is over.

This series is arguably the biggest for the Astros since 2008, when the Astros headed to Milwaukee to the face Cubs. The Astros were swept and any thoughts of a playoff run were dashed.  (Alright, lets take a moment and let our blood stop boiling after thinking about that series.)

The Astros are 5-5 this season against the Angels, going 2-1 in the one series at Houston.

Pitching

Game 1 - RHP Collin McHugh (11-5, 4.25 ERA, 1.28 WHIP) vs. LHP C.J. Wilson (8-7, 3.59 ERA, 1.21 WHIP)
Game 2 - RHP Lance McCullers (4-3, 2.60 ERA, 1.15 WHIP) vs. RHP Garrett Richards (10-7, 3.25 ERA, 1.18 WHIP)
Game 3 - LHP Scott Kazmir (6-5, 2.24 ERA, 1.05 WHIP) vs. RHP Matt Shoemaker (5-7, 4.55 ERA, 1.27 WHIP)

The Astros have a pretty good threesum to start against the Angels, Collin McHugh, Lance McCullers, and Scott Kazmir. McHugh has been on a bit of a rollercoaster this season. He has been constant in one aspect, he been eating inning -- ranking second only to Dallas Keuchel this season on the Astros in innings pitched (127 IP). This month he has his lowest ERA (3.20) since April. He has a 2.08 ERA in 13 innings since the All-Star Break.

C.J. Wilson has been on a roll for the Angels, posting a 3-1 record with a 2.56 ERA in his last five starts. Wilson is 7-7 with a 4.56 ERA in 25 career appearances against the Astros. The Astros roughed up in his last start against the Astros, allowing seven runs over 3 1/3 innings.

Lance McCullers keeps chugging along, giving up two runs over 5 innings on July 23 against the Red Sox. He has stumbled a bit with a 3.94 ERA in his last three starts. Garrett Richard returned to the major leagues this year against the Astros, allowing four runs over five innings. He has been stellar in July with a 2.40 ERA in four starts.

Scott Kazmir has been everything the Astros dreamed up, pitching seven scoreless innings against the Royals on July 24. Against the Angels this season, Kazmir is 1-0 with a 1.23 ERA in one start. Matt Shoemaker is coming off his best start of the season, throwing six innings of two-hit, scoreless ball with 10 strikeouts against the Twins on July 21.

Hitting

Jose Altuve has come back to life, batting .417 in his last six games. Marwin Gonzalez hit his way into the starting lineup at first, batting .357 in his last 14 at-bats. Preston Tucker has three home runs and four RBIs in his last 21 at-bats. Carlos Correa has three doubles and four RBIs in his last 18 at-bats.

The Angels will be without Mike Trout at least for game, who has a lingering wrist injury that he suffered Sunday. Trout is batting .450 with three home runs and seven RBIs in his last 20 at-bats. Four other Angels are batting over .300 in their last 14-plus at-bats: C.J. Cron (.300), Kole Calhoun (.32), Johnny Giavotella (.346), and Daniel Robertson (.429). Albert Pujols is batting .269 (7x26) with two doubles and two RBIs.

Prediction

I like the Astros pitching in game one and three. With Trout out of the lineup in game one, they take it and find a way in one of the last two. Astros win series 2-1.