|Still wary of Trout, Astros seek sweep of Angels|
Houston Astros manager AJ Hinch wanted no part of lauding the success his pitchers have enjoyed this series against Los Angeles Angels superstar center fielder Mike Trout, particularly in high-leverage situations.
Before recording an RBI single off Astros reliever Joe Smith with one out in the seventh inning Saturday, Trout was 0-for-7 on the weekend. He'd stranded teammates in scoring position in the two plate appearances prior to his run-scoring hit and did so twice in the series opener Friday.
Trout represented the tying run when he came to the plate with the bases loaded in the fifth inning Saturday, only to lift a fly ball that Astros center fielder George Springer corralled for the final out. He flew out to Springer again with David Fletcher on first base in the ninth and has left five batters in scoring position this series.
The Astros stand one win away from a series sweep.
"It doesn't have an answer," Hinch told reporters of Trout batting just 1-for-9. "If I had it, I wouldn't give it to you; we've got a few games with these guys left. It's very uncomfortable when Mike Trout comes up to bat. It's really hard when he comes up to bat with a chance to tie the game early in the game with (Astros starter) Wade (Miley).
"Just in general he's a dangerous guy, so get in (Sunday) and hopefully give him a rest day or not give him too much to hit and then get to the next team. I'm never comfortable, even though we've had a nice couple days against him."
Left-hander Framber Valdez (3-6, 5.58 ERA) will start the series finale for the Astros on Sunday.
With right-hander Aaron Sanchez on the 10-day injured list (right pectoral soreness), Valdez will make his first appearance for the Astros since July 15 against the Angels in Anaheim, when he allowed seven runs (four earned) on six hits and four walks with four strikeouts over four innings.
Valdez was 0-4 with a 15.55 ERA over his last four appearances before being optioned to Triple-A Round Rock (for whom he is 5-2 with a 3.25 ERA over 10 appearances this season). He is 2-2 with a 3.15 ERA over four career appearances (two starts) against the Angels.
Right-hander Jaime Barria (4-5, 6.35 ERA) gets the start Sunday as the Angels look to avert the sweep. Barria did not factor in the decision in his last start on Aug. 20 at Texas after working five innings and allowing two runs on five hits and one walk with four strikeouts. He has allowed three runs or fewer in nine of 13 appearances this season.
In four career starts against the Astros, Barria is 1-1 with a 2.57 ERA, including a 1-0 mark and 0.82 ERA in two starts at Minute Maid Park. Sunday will mark his first start against the Astros this season.
One bright spot for the Angels in their 5-2 loss Saturday was the 425-foot home run rookie second baseman Luis Rengifo blasted in the fifth inning off Miley. It marked his third home run and sixth extra-base hit this month and offered the Angels a flash of his surprising power.
"The power's starting to shine through," Angels manager Brad Ausmus said of Rengifo. "We've said it all along: For his stature, he's got a lot of power, it's just a matter of consistent contact. He hit a home run at Texas, he hit one (Saturday) -- some of the home runs he hits are moonshots. So, he has tremendous amounts of power."
--Field Level Media