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Matt Andriese tries to get Angels back on track in Astros opener

Weekend series begins Friday night in Anaheim

MLB: Spring Training-San Diego Padres at Los Angeles Angels Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The Angels open a series against the Astros on Friday night at Angel Stadium, and can count themselves on the fortunate side of having not had any games wiped out yet by the coronavirus.

Twenty percent of MLB is off on Friday, with some teams also not playing through the weekend, stemming from positive tests on the Marlins and Cardinals:

Coupled with games shelved earlier this week, a total of 15 games have been postponed this season due to positive coronavirus tests, affecting eight different teams.

The Angels haven’t yet had any games postponed by coronavirus testing, though it has affected their pitching staff. Julio Teheran was late in reporting to summer camp after a positive test at his home in Atlanta, and is now working his way back, having pitched a simulated game Thursday at the alternate training site in Long Beach, getting closer to a return from the injured list. Patrick Sandoval, who started the home opener Tuesday and has since been optioned, was also late in reporting to camp after testing positive.

Angels-Astros TV schedule

Date Time (PT) TV
Date Time (PT) TV
Fri, Jul 31 6:10 p.m. Fox Sports West
Sat, Aug 1 4:07 p.m. Fox
Sun, Aug 2 1:10 p.m. Fox Sports West

Back in spring, when the thoughts of a full, 162-game season were taken for granted, the Angels playing the Astros would have been much different. These two teams were scheduled to meet up 10 times in the first 21 games of the season, an interesting challenge for the Halos against the American League West’s best team.

These games are still of utmost importance for the Angels, as are any games against a divisional opponent in a 60-game season, and especially since the Angels are just 2-5 out of the gate. But this series has quite a different feel to it.

For one, Mike Trout is out for at least a few days, on paternity leave for the birth of his son.

Also, the Astros’ pitching staff has been decimated. Their ace, Justin Verlander, is on the injured list with a forearm strain, his availability for the season still in question. Injuries to several relievers mean that Houston currently has a staff with nine rookies. Seven Astros pitchers have made their major league debut this season.

Matt Andriese gets the start for the Angels in Friday’s series opener, with an unblemished record so far in 2020. Andriese was pressed into emergency relief duty on Sunday in Oakland when Shohei Ohtani faced only six batters and didn’t retire any of them. Andriese kept the Angels within striking distance with 5⅔ scoreless innings, allowing only three hits and a walk while striking out five.

Remove Andriese’s stellar relief effort, and the rest of the bullpen looks even worse, with a 6.57 ERA in 24⅔ innings, including allowing 13 runs in the last two games against Seattle, both losses.

Manager Joe Maddon addressed the bullpen after Thursday’s loss, per Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register:

“We’ve played relatively well enough to be in a better position record-wise. Me, (pitching coach Mickey Callaway) and (bullpen coach Matt Wise) have to spend a lot of time to get this proper and right, because you really can’t get anywhere without a substantial bullpen.”

Game info

Time: 6:10 p.m. PT

TV: Fox Sports West