|Astros look to bounce back against Angels|
HOUSTON -- For just the second time this season an Houston Astros starter surrendered more than three earned runs in an appearance, a departure from what has been a dominating run for their rotation.
Right-hander Charlie Morton had allowed just three runs (two earned) over four starts before scuffling through four innings Tuesday in an 8-7 loss to the Los Angeles Angels. By allowing four runs on five hits and five walks, he joined Lance McCullers as the only starters to allow at least four runs in an outing, a minuscule number considering the Astros have now completed five turns through their vaunted rotation.
The Astros (16-9) entered Tuesday leading the major leagues in starter's ERA at 2.12.
"It's hard to argue that we could get anything better than what we've gotten in the first five rotations through," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "I like the camaraderie that they have. They build off of one another's success. They're very competitive internally, which is nice. They help each other, which is nice. Their production and performance have been second to none in the league.
"They're exactly what we need in order to feel good about every day we come out. Our guy is going to match up well to the opponent. We can pitch to a game plan, we have power stuff, we have different styles and whoever we're handing the ball to right now is setting a great tone."
Astros right-hander Justin Verlander (3-0, 1.10 ERA) will start the series finale against Los Angeles. Verlander, 8-8 with a 3.36 ERA over 19 career starts against the Angels, has produced three scoreless appearances this season. That includes his most recent outing last Friday against the Chicago White Sox when he allowed two hits and three walks with five strikeouts over six innings. Verlander extended his regular-season winning streak to 10 consecutive decisions.
In three starts against the Angels last season, Verlander went 2-1 with a 1.71 ERA.
Right-hander Nick Tropeano (1-1, 3.75 ERA) will make his third start of the season and second on the road for the Angels on Wednesday. It will mark his first start against Houston since May 29, 2016. Originally selected by the Astros in the fifth round of the 2011 draft, Tropeano has not recorded a decision while posting a 3.86 ERA over two career starts against his former club.
The Angels (16-8) received a welcome boost from shortstop Andrelton Simmons on Tuesday night, with Simmons going 3-for-4 with two home runs and a career-high five RBIs in their 8-7 series-clinching win. It was Simmons' first game back after being hit by a pitch Sunday and departing in the fourth inning against the San Francisco Giants with a right forearm contusion.
It marked Simmons' fourth career multi-homer game, and the performance reinforced what the Angels knew all along: that Simmons had dodged a debilitating injury and was poised to contribute both in the field and at the plate.
"We knew he was OK," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Coming out of the game when he got hit we knew it was just muscular and he felt a lot better (on Monday). We wanted to give him one more day and today he was good to go."