Houston Astros (81-71) vs. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (66-86), September 22, 2016, 7:10 PM CT
Radio: KBME 790 AM, La Nueva 94.1 FM
Angels SBNation Blog: Halos Heaven
RHP Mike Fiers (11-7, 4.46 ERA, 4.24 xFIP, 1.36 WHIP) vs. RHP Ricky Nolasco (with Angels: 2-6, 4.03 ERA, 4.41 xFIP, 1.12 WHIP)
The Astros come back to Houston with the chance to be in possession of a playoff spot by day's end (or tied for one anyway). Sitting just one game behind the 2nd wild card spot and 2 games behind the 1st wild card spot, the Astros start a 4-game series against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (say that 5 times fast).
The Astros lost their first 2016 game against the Angels, but have won 11 in a row since then. The wins certainly haven't looked the same either. There have been blow outs, pitchers' duels, extra inning games, and comeback walk-off wins in the 9th. For 11 games in a row, the Astros have been able to keep the Angels from putting up a W in a variety of ways, and they'll need to do it a few more times to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Mike Fiers gets the start for the Astros after he won a pitcher's duel in Seattle on Saturday. Fiers held the Mariners to 3 hits and 1 walk over 6 scoreless innings as he bounced back from one of his worst starts of the season in his prior start (7 ER over 2.1 IP against the Cubs).
Fiers got the loss in the Angels' only win over the Astros this year. He gave up 7 ER over 3.2 IP in Anaheim back on 5/27. His other start against the Angels was much more comfortable as the Astros jumped out to an 8-0 lead after 2 innings on 7/24. Fiers gave up 3 ER and 9 hits over 7 IP in that game to earn the win.
Ricky Nolasco, who was acquired from the Minnesota Twins at the trade deadline this year, gets the start for the Angels. He has been slightly better since joining the Angels, tossing a couple gems in between mediocre outings. He threw 6 scoreless innings against Toronto in his last start, earning the win and helping the Astros gain ground on the Blue Jays. Hopefully he will help the Astros gain more ground on the Blue Jays tonight.
Other Teams to Watch
Detroit (80-70) is also 10 games above .500 entering Thursday, but has played 2 fewer games than the Astros. They play a double header in Minnesota after yesterday's game was rained out. Game 1 starts at 1:10 PM and Game 2 starts at 7:10 PM.
Baltimore (82-70), currently 1 game ahead of the Astros in possession of the 2nd wild card spot, hosts Boston at 6:05 PM. It's the finale of a 4-game set in which the Red Sox have won the first three.
Toronto (83-69), currently 2 games ahead of the Astros in possession of the 1st wild card spot, has the day off today.