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Angels And Astros Renew AL West Rivalry At The Big A

Patrick Sandoval Kicks Off The Weekend Battling Zack Grenkie

MLB: AUG 06 Angels at Dodgers Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Following a “SHO” stopping 6-3 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays last night to split the four-game series, the Angels get set to buckle up for a big weekend series against the Houston Astros. The Angels enter the day 7.5 games back of the Boston Red Sox, who have lost 10 of their last 13 games, for the final AL Wild Card playoff spot.

There is bound to be plenty of cheering and probably even more booing at the stadium all weekend long as the Astros make just their second visit to Anaheim this season. In nine head-to-head matches, the Angels trail the Astros 3-6 and will turn to southpaw Patrick Sandoval for a changing of the tides. The 24-year-old from Mission Viejo, CA will start the night with a 3-5 record and 3.39 ERA in 16 appearances (13 starts), while carrying a 1.19 WHIP in 82.1 innings. In one previous outing versus the Stros (May 12), Sandoval struggled in relief, surrendering four earned runs and two home runs in just two innings pitched. In four starts post All-Star break, Sandoval has limited opposing batters to a .186 average in 26.1 innings and a sub-three ERA (2.73).

Opposing the Angels is veteran right-hander Zack Grenkie. The former Angel (2012) leads the charge for the Astros pitching staff this season with a 10-3 record and 3.69 ERA in 136.2 innings. In two starts against the Halos in 2021 (April 6 & 23), Grenkie has spun two quality starts for a total of 14 innings pitched while yielding just four earned runs on 15 hits. The scary thing about Grenkie on the mound is not only his slow moving breaking ball arriving to the plate below 70 MPH, but him being more effective on the road than at Minute Maid Ballpark. In 10 road starts, he is 5-0 with a 2.67 ERA in comparison to a 4.58 ERA in 13 home starts.

Since his return from the IL (Right Intercostal Strain), first baseman Jared Walsh has begun to put balance back in the Angels lineup. His two-run single last night puts him at the cusp of 70 RBI (69 thus far in 99 games this season) and stepping into the box against Astros pitching proves to be a worthy accomplishment as well.

In eight games, the former 39th Round pick in 2015 is batting .313 (10-for-32) with a home run, double and four runs batted in. He put together a four-hit game on May 10 in Houston during a 5-4 Angels victory. To make matters even better, Walsh is swinging to the tune of .300/.348/.568 slash in 51 games at Angel Stadium.

Angels News & Notes

  • C Max Stassi returns to the lineup tonight after getting the “Okay” to return to game action after getting HBP on the left forearm Wednesday night versus Toronto
  • C/INF Matt Thaiss assigned to Angels Taxi Squad from Triple-A Salt Lake
  • LHP Ky Bush (Angels 2021 2nd Round Pick) tossed 1.1 shutout innings and 4 strikeouts in his pro debut last night with High-A Tri-City