|Injuries an added challenge for Astros as Angels arrive|
With the Astros facing yet another injury challenge, their need for certain individuals to deliver a bit more than usual once again becomes pronounced.
This time, with shortstop Carlos Correa sidelined indefinitely with back discomfort and utility infielder Aledmys Diaz on the 10-day injured list with an undisclosed illness, the Astros require more of what left fielder Michael Brantley has provided them over the past couple of weeks. And with the Los Angeles Angels set to visit Minute Maid Park for a three-game weekend series starting Friday, Brantley is wielding a red-hot bat at the most opportune time for Houston.
Brantley extended his current hitting streak to 15 games with a 3-for-4 effort in the Astros' 6-3 win over Detroit Thursday. He is batting .476 during his streak with 13 extra-base hits and 15 RBIs. Ten of his major league-leading 52 multi-hit games have come during his season-best streak, with Brantley shouldering a significant load for the short-handed Astros.
"He's just one of the best hitters in baseball in putting together a consistent at-bat, multi hits, always contributing, seemingly always swinging at strikes," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "It's more his consistency. He never wavered off that, even when he was getting beat a little bit or a few too many ground balls to the pull side. He stays true to his approach and comes out of any sort of slow day or week. Whenever he has a bad stretch it's very short-lived."
Right-hander Zack Greinke (13-4, 2.84 ERA) will make his fourth start for the Astros in the series opener against the Angels. Greinke is 3-0 with a 2.37 ERA since Houston acquired him from the Arizona Diamondbacks at the trade deadline, winning his 200th game in his previous start Aug. 18 at Oakland after allowing one run on four hits and three walks with six strikeouts over seven innings. He is 4-5 with a 3.94 ERA over 13 career appearances (12 starts) against the Angels, earning a 7-4 victory on June 18, 2018, in Anaheim after allowing three runs on seven hits and two walks with five strikeouts over 6 1/3 innings.
Rookie left-hander Jose Suarez (2-4, 6.75 ERA) will make his 13th appearance and 12th start of the season for the Angels Friday. He is winless over his last nine appearances (eight starts), going 0-3 with a 7.71 ERA and 40 strikeouts in 37 1/3 innings. Suarez has allowed 13 home runs during that stretch with opposing batters slugging a robust .623 over that span.
Suarez has made one previous appearance against the Astros, surrendering two runs on five hits and two walks with four strikeouts over 3 1/3 innings on July 7. He did not factor in the decision of an 11-10 loss.
Rookie right-hander Griffin Canning (5-6, 4.58 ERA) was scheduled to start Friday but was shut down for the season after an MRI Thursday revealed mild inflammation in his elbow joint.
Canning made 18 appearances with 17 starts including his debut on April 30. He worked seven innings against the Chicago White Sox last Sunday, allowing one run on five hits and one walk with eight strikeouts in the 9-2 win. Canning was 2-0 with a 2.12 ERA over his last three starts.
"Griffin Canning underwent an MRI (Thursday) morning in Los Angeles," Angels general manager Billy Eppler said via statement. "We will shut Griffin down for the remainder of the season to allow the inflammation to subside."
--Field Level Media