Astros manager A.J. Hinch faced his first serious bullpen crisis minus All-Star setup man Ryan Pressly on Friday in the opener of a three-game weekend series against the visiting Los Angeles Angels at Minute Maid Park.
With Pressly sidelined potentially for the remainder of the regular season following arthroscopic right knee surgery earlier Friday and closer Roberto Osuna entering the series having pitched four times in the last five games, Hinch had to juggle high-leverage responsibilities in ways unfamiliar. In closing out a 5-4 victory, that meant right-hander Will Harris recording the most significant out in relief with his strikeout of Shohei Ohtani to end the seventh inning with the tying run at third base.
That left the eighth inning to right-hander Hector Rondon, who promptly surrendered a solo home run but preserved the lead in advance of Osuna pitching once again and earning his 31st save. Hinch initially planned to avoid leaning on Osuna, but the Astros might employ unconventional methods for the remainder of this series and season with Pressly unavailable.
"I'm not sure. It's nothing that I'm trying to script out," Hinch said of his bullpen usage moving forward. "I pitched Joe (Smith on Thursday); Hector had been throwing the ball very, very well. I still haven't used (Brad) Peacock in that situation quite yet. (Collin) McHugh can do it, Devo (Chris Devenski) can do it. Just get to the 27th out with the lead. These guys don't care when they pitch. They'll answer the bell when I call down there."
Left-hander Wade Miley (12-4, 3.18 ERA) gets the start for the Astros on Saturday. He is 6-0 with a 3.02 ERA over his last 11 starts, allowing batters a .224/.294/.359 slash line during that stretch. Miley surrendered a season-high 10 hits in his most recent start yet limited the Detroit Tigers to three runs while recording eight strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings in a 5-4 victory on Monday.
He is 4-0 with a 2.14 ERA over five career starts against the Angels, including a 2-0 mark and 2.38 ERA over two starts this season. Houston has scored 20 runs in his starts against the Angels.
Left-hander Dillon Peters (3-1, 3.92) will start the middle game of the series for the Angels. He did not factor in the decision in his previous start after allowing five runs (four earned) on seven hits and four walks with three strikeouts over four-plus innings at Texas on Monday.
He will make his 11th appearance and sixth start; in seven outings as the Angels' primary pitcher, Peters is 3-1 with a 3.99 ERA. This will mark his first appearance against the Astros.
The series opener brought another night of frustration for the Angels, whose current seven-game road trip opened with three walk-off losses during a four-game series with the Texas Rangers. Against the Astros, the Angels finished 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
"Right now, we're just playing good enough to just lose," Angels manager Brad Ausmus said. "That's just what it is. The walk-offs in Arlington and the close one (Friday). We're playing good enough to just lose."
--Field Level Media