Astros at Angels
The Houston Astros have halted their four-game skid and look to move closer to wrapping up the American League West when they visit the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday for the middle contest of their three-game series. Justin Verlander's stellar pitching helped Houston to a 1-0 victory on Tuesday, reducing its magic number to clinch the division to five.
Verlander allowed one hit in eight innings and Yuli Gurriel singled in the lone run as the Astros improved to 46-26 on the road. The setback continued a ragged stretch for the Angels, who have dropped four of their last five to fall two games behind Minnesota for the AL's second wild-card berth. Los Angeles has scored just 10 runs during the five-game stretch and superstar Mike Trout is in a 2-for-21 funk over his last seven contests. Houston scratched Lance McCullers Jr. from his scheduled start in the middle game of the set late Tuesday night, and that is probably fine with the Angels as the right-hander has allowed just five hits and one unearned run in 13 2/3 innings against them this season.
TV: 8:05 p.m. ET, AT&T SportsNet-Southwest (Houston), FSN West (Los Angeles)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Astros RH Mike Fiers (8-9, 4.87 ERA) vs. Angels LH Tyler Skaggs (1-5, 4.86)
Fiers is being tabbed to make the start after McCullers reported fatigue in his arm while throwing prior to Tuesday's game. The 32-year-old recently lost his spot in the rotation when the Astros acquired Verlander and he was roughed up for 14 runs over just 8 1/3 innings in his last two starts before making his most-recent appearance in relief. Fiers is 2-0 with a 2.19 ERA in two starts versus the Angels this season, 3-2 with a 4.40 ERA in seven career outings and routinely has shut down Brandon Phillips (2-for-19).
Skaggs lost his fourth straight decision despite matching his season high with nine strikeouts against Oakland in his last turn. The 24-year-old gave up three runs and six hits over six innings in the setback, which marked his eighth straight winless outing. Skaggs is 2-2 with a 3.38 ERA in five career starts against Houston and allowed five runs - four earned - and six hits over five frames of a no-decision versus the Astros on Aug. 26.
1. Astros RF Josh Reddick is hitless in seven at-bats over his last two games after beginning September with 13 RBIs during a 14-for-25 stretch.
2. Los Angeles LF Justin Upton is homerless in his last 14 contests, including 10 since being acquired from Detroit.
3. Houston's Collin McHugh (lacerated right middle fingernail) will miss his start on Thursday, with fellow RHP Brad Peacock taking his place.