Astros at Angels
Jose Altuve hasn't looked much like a three-time batting champion lately, but he delivered a big hit when his team needed it the most Tuesday to keep the Houston Astros in first place in the American League West. After showing signs he is ready to break out of a rare slump, the reigning AL MVP will try to lead the Astros to a series victory Wednesday when they visit the Los Angeles Angels in the rubber match of their three-game set.
Altuve, who reached base three times in Tuesday's 5-3 victory, delivered a go-ahead, three-run double to snap out of a 2-for-18 funk and give Houston a one-game edge atop the division standings over the Angels. Josh Reddick, who sparked the rally with a leadoff double and recorded two key assists from right field prior to the comeback, also scored an insurance run in the ninth as the Astros improved to 15-7 on the road this season and 16-9 against the AL West. Since beginning the season by winning 13 of its first 16, Los Angeles is 12-14 - including 3-3 in the middle of its 11-game homestand. Justin Upton remained hot in May, however, connecting on a two-run blast off Gerrit Cole in his first at-bat to run his totals for the month to seven homers and a majors-best 21 RBIs.
TV: 9:40 p.m. ET, AT&T SportsNet - Southwest (Houston), FS West (Los Angeles)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Astros RH Justin Verlander (4-2, 1.21 ERA) vs. Angels RH Garrett Richards (4-1, 4.08)
Verlander is winless over his last three turns after going 9-0 in his first 11 regular-season starts as an Astro, mostly as a result of being given one run of support over that span. The 2011 AL MVP fell to 0-2 in three May outings despite posting a 0.90 ERA following Friday's loss to Texas in which he yielded one run over six innings. Upton is 1-for-12 against Verlander, who earned his last victory versus the Angels on April 25 when he permitted two runs in seven frames.
Richards did not factor into the decision for the first time in five trips to the mound Thursday against Minnesota, giving up all of his runs across 5 1/3 innings on a three-run homer to Brian Dozier. The 29-year-old Oklahoma product enjoyed his finest outing of the season six days earlier when he tossed 6 2/3 scoreless frames in a victory at Seattle. Richards was dominant in two starts versus the Angels last season but failed to win either time despite allowing one run and fanning 10 over 11 innings.
1. The Angels (1.91) and Astros (2.05) boast the AL's top ERAs from their respective rotations this month.
2. Los Angeles DH Albert Pujols went 1-for-4 on Tuesday, breaking his tie for 30th place on the all-time hits list with Al Kaline (3,008) and moving within two of Wade Boggs (3,010) for 29th.
3. Houston SS Carlos Correa has not committed an error in his last 52 games, one shy of the longest streak by an Astro shortstop since Adam Everett in 2006.