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Game No. 152 Preview: Houston Astros vs. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

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Lance McCullers looks to continue his recent hot streak since return to Major League club; Astros bats look to remain on the hunt

Lance McCullers seeks the 6th win of his sensational rookie season
Lance McCullers seeks the 6th win of his sensational rookie season
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Astros (80-71) vs. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (76-74), Sep 22, 2015 7:10 PM CDT

TV:Root Sports SW, MLB.TV
Radio: KBME 790 AM, KLAT 1010 AM
Angels SB Nation Blog: Halos Heaven

Pitching Matchup:

RHP Lance McCullers (5-6, 3.18 ERA, 1.22 WHIP) vs. LHP Hector Santiago(8-9, 3.47 ERA, 1.25 WHIP)

Preview:

In a rematch of a game ten days ago in Anaheim which saw each of these young pitchers duel to a mutual no decision, Lance McCullers and Hector Santiago will go head to head in a heated game to help decide each team's presence - or absence - from the 2015 Major League Baseball postseason.

Each pitcher has made a start since their head to head match up ten days ago in which each gave up two runs.  In Santiago's most recent start, he was lit up for five earned runs on five hits - one of them a home run - and lasted just two thirds of an inning.  In McCullers' most recent start, he turned in six innings and three earned runs in a loss to the Texas Rangers - a game in which the Astros offense just couldn't cobble runs together to support him.  McCullers has had five starts since re-joining the team on August 23rd, four of which have been quality starts.  The fifth, the aforementioned start against Hector Santiago and these Angels on September 12th, would have counted as a quality start except for the fact that McCullers was unable to pitch beyond the third out of the fifth inning.  So there is no mistaking the fact that the 21 year old right handed starting pitcher has been electric for the Astros since his return to the big leagues.

Looking at the match-ups on the offensive side of the ball, McCullers has fared well against Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and the Astros-killing Kole Calhoun this season.  The trio are a combined 3-20 this season against McCullers, with Mike Trout hitless in four at bats this season.  C.J. Cron, Erick Aybar, David Freese, Matt Joyce and David DeJesus have combined to hit Lance fairly well, however, notching a combined 11-23 tally for a combined .478 batting average.  The key for Lance tonight will be to continue limiting the damage to the big hitters (the Angels have only scored four earned runs against the Astros righty this year in eighteen innings, resulting in a perfect 2.00 ERA for McCullers against them, despite several of the second and third tier hitters on the team finding success against him) while managing and controlling his adrenaline and avoiding walks while keeping his pitch count manageable.

Of all the Astros hitters to struggle against Santiago this season, perhaps the most surprising has been Jose Altuve.  He's only 3-14 against the Angels' southpaw - a trend he will surely be looking to shatter tonight.  However, some surprising Astros have hit Hector Santiago quite well.  Chris Carter is 4-12 against him with a home run and four RBI, explaining his presence in the starting lineup.  Additionally, Jason Castro is 4-13 against Santiago - which, again, explains his presence starting this game against a left handed pitcher.  George Springer and Carlos Correa have both struggled against Santiago as well, but with the way all three of the Astros' top of the order hitters are swinging right this second, it appears foolish to count on their woes to continue against Santiago in this game.

Astros lineup:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Tonight&#39;s <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Astros?src=hash">#Astros</a> lineup vs. Angels. <a href="https://twitter.com/LMcCullers43">@LMcCullers43</a> gets the ball at 7:10 CT. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Whiff?src=hash">#Whiff</a> <a href="http://t.co/VLlCKW5aLE">pic.twitter.com/VLlCKW5aLE</a></p>&mdash; Houston Astros  (@astros) <a href="https://twitter.com/astros/status/646414250701774848">September 22, 2015</a></blockquote>
<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Angels lineup:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">.<a href="https://twitter.com/HecSantiago53">@HecSantiago53</a> and the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Angels?src=hash">#Angels</a> battle the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Astros?src=hash">#Astros</a> in the 2nd leg of this A.L. West showdown tonight. <a href="http://t.co/xGm4s7PoA1">pic.twitter.com/xGm4s7PoA1</a></p>&mdash; Angels (@Angels) <a href="https://twitter.com/Angels/status/646419660129234944">September 22, 2015</a></blockquote>
<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

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