With friends like these, who needs enemies?
The plummeting Angels drop in to at Minute Maid Park, but not to safety. They’re facing a world champion Houston Astros team that was built for games that matter.
The Astros will take nothing for granted.
The best the Angels can hope for is a safe flight home, and ... with an unlikely sweep, a .500 record. Mike Scioscia could take that into his likely farewell homestand against the Texas Rangers.
Friday: Andrew Heaney (9-9, 3.79 ERA) vs Gerrit Cole (14-5, 2.88).
The Houston Astros acquired Cole, a Newport Beach boy, precisely for games like these: Ones that should matter. The Angels simply haven’t held up their end of the bargain.
Heaney has stood up, much to his credit.
The southpaw leads the Angels with 28 starts — call him the Iron Man if you will — but even he’s symptomatic of the Angels’ season of pain. Heaney started the season on the disabled list.
Odds: A toss-up. The Angels have hit Cole well in the past, and Heaney is as reliable an option as Scioscia has in his rotation.
Saturday: Jaime Barria (10-9, 3.61) vs Justin Verlander (16-9, 2.67).
A year before, Jeff Luhnow acquired Verlander to win it all — and he did.
This looks like a horrible mismatch on paper, but Velander isn’t untouchable.
And Barria is pitching like anything like a tender 21-year-old rookie. Barria is on his way to becoming the most fabled Angel to hail from Panama. The other? Angel hall of famer Rod Carew.
Odds: It’s Justin Verlander. But it’s also baseball, and anything can happen.
Sunday: Tyler Skaggs (8-8, 3.69) vs Charlie Morton (15-3, 3.15).
Morton is tough to figure out. Is he a reliever? A starter? Everyone knows Morton throws serious juice.
But so is Skaggs, who has bounced back from injuries so many times since 2016 it’s hard to count them.
He needs eight more strikeouts for 400 in his stop-start career, He’ll be lucky to get those whiffs against the patient Astros, who put the ball in play
Odds: If the Angels win the first two, go in on Skaggs inducing a bunch of grounders to Andrelton Simmons.
That means outs, folks.
(It’s my civil obligation, as a member of this community to mention Shohei Ohtani at least once. There we go! It’ll be TWICE after that player takes Cole, Verlander or any Astro deep).