The Houston Astros’ offense has been impressive all month. The team’s pitching staff, however, is just now coming around.
The Astros close out their three-game interleague series with the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday, looking for back-to-back series wins.
Houston (31-40) has won four of its last five games, including a 9-5 victory over Los Angeles (45-27) on Tuesday. One night after a 10-9 loss, the Astros were forced to rally again after the Angels took leads of 3-0 and 5-3, but the results were more favorable.
The Astros, who came into the series having swept Seattle, have scored 37 runs over the last four games. The team is averaging 5.5 runs in June, and have at least 11 hits in seven straight games—including a season-high 17 on Tuesday.
Houston is just 9-9 this month, however, due in part to inconsistent pitching.
Overall, the team has a 4.64 ERA in 18 games in June, with the bullpen going 2-6 with five blown saves and a 5.33 ERA.
But the Astros relievers seem to have regrouped. Although they allowed four runs over 2 2-3 innings on Monday, those are the only runs they have given up through 13 innings spanning the last five games.
“Ever since the series at home against Seattle, we’ve been swinging the bats really well,” said Tuesday’s starter Jason Jennings. “And that takes pressure off us because there’s room for mistakes, room for us to be more aggressive and not try to be so careful.”
A key member of the bullpen corps, however, will be missing. Closer Brad Lidge was placed on the 15-day disabled list after Tuesday’s victory with a strained oblique muscle in his left side.
“It’s definitely frustrating,” said Lidge, who only recently had taken back the closer’s role after losing it to Dan Wheeler. “I finally found my way back to where things were going real good, and I’m just hoping that we can get this thing done as soon as possible.”
Houston closes the series with Wandy Rodriguez (4-6, 4.19 ERA), who is coming off one of the best starts of his career. The left-hander has alternated wins and losses in his last four starts, and allowed just one run and six hits in 7 2-3 innings Friday in a 5-1 win over Seattle.
“It was the best I’ve ever pitched,” he said. “My concentration was good and my location was good. Everything worked out.”
Rodriguez, who has never faced the Angels, is looking to make a dent in his road struggles. He is 1-4 with a 6.42 ERA over six starts away from Houston.
The Angels, who had a three-game winning streak snapped, counter with Ervin Santana (5-7, 5.04), who is coming off a tough loss on Friday against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The right-hander limited the Dodgers to two runs and five hits in seven innings, but the Angels lost 2-1.
“You hate to waste a good start from Ervin Santana,” teammate Gary Mathews Jr. said. “When he has a night like that, you want to try and take advantage of it.”
Santana is 4-1 with a 2.41 ERA in six home starts this season, and 23-6 with a 2.98 ERA in 37 starts at Angel Stadium lifetime.