The Astros stumbled out of the gate, falling to 17-28 in late May and making many question whether or not they were legitimate contenders. In response, they've turned things around and now stand at 51-44, good enough for second in the AL West. This places them 3.5 games back of the Rangers for the division and just 2.5 back of the Blue Jays for a Wild Card. So far this year, Houston is 8-1 against the Angels and 6-6-2 in series vs. divisional opponents. Their sole loss to the Angels came on the road. An underperforming Dallas Keuchel was the story in Houston while they struggled in the beginning, but the team has righted the ship and their ace has done the same. Youthful stars like Carlos Correa and George Springer as well as the hitting machine known as Jose Altuve continue to provide the bats for the Astros.
On the other hand, the Angels just never seem to play as well as it seems like they should with superstars like Mike Trout and Albert Pujols in the lineup. Suspect pitching from Jered Weaver, Hector Santiago, and Matt Shoemaker have hurt the team’s chances badly, even if Santiago and Shoemaker have shown massive improvement lately. Role players like Yunel Escobar and Johnny Giavotella haven’t produced like they were expected to, and that’s hurt Los Angeles significantly on the offensive end. Not only have the Angels faltered against teams in their division, they're also just 21-26 away from home.
Mike Fiers hasn’t been the best pitcher in the Astro’s rotation, but he’ll look to continue his success in Houston when he toes the rubber on Sunday. Although he owns a mediocre 4.75 ERA and a middling 6-4 record, Fiers’s numbers jump to 3.34 and 5-2 at home this year. He’s allowed only a .245 batting average at home and 48 of his 69 strikeouts have come there too. With both a great offense and history on his side, you have to like his chances of picking up another win at home on Sunday.
For the Angels, it will be the resurgent Tim Lincecum taking the mound for his second start against Houston this season. His first start against the Astros was in Los Angeles on June 28th, and it was a minor disaster. Lincecum gave up five runs on seven hits and walked four, forcing Mike Scioscia to pull him after just 4 1/3 innings. The former Cy Young winner’s season has been a roller coaster, but his two wins have come on the road. However, Lincecum’s .496 average against right-handed hitters is downright scary and his 4.96 ERA on the road isn’t much better.
- Sports.net’s top tip: The Astros are rolling, most punters still don’t trust Lincecum one bit. A good bet would be on the Astros to get this win easily at home by a score of 8-3.