LA Angels of Anaheim (83-53) at Houston Astros (59-79), 8:10 p.m. (ET)
09/02/2014 10:33 AM
09/02/2014 10:41 AM
A six-game winning streak for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have given them a semi-comfortable lead atop the American League West.
A modest string of back-to-back victories didn't stop the Houston Astros from making a big change.
The Angels try to keep rolling on Tuesday night when they face the Astros and interim manager Tom Lawless in the first of two straight meetings.
Los Angeles' winning streak includes a big four-game sweep of the rival Oakland Athletics over the weekend, giving the Angels a five-game lead over the A's for the division's top spot. The A's did cut into the deficit by a half-game with a win on Monday while L.A. was idle.
The Angels held the Athletics to just one run over the final three games of the set after winning Thursday's opener 4-3 in extra innings. Jered Weaver led the charge on Friday with seven scoreless innings and eight different hurlers pieced together a three-hit shutout on Saturday.
Red-hot starter Matt Shoemaker then extended the run in Sunday's 8-1 win, giving up five hits and striking out seven over seven scoreless innings.
Mike Trout homered and drove in three runs, while Chris Iannetta added three hits and a solo homer of his own. Erick Aybar extended his hitting streak to 16 straight games, a career high in which he is batting .458.
That offense and Shoemaker's dominance on the mound helped the Angels improve to 15-4 since Aug. 12.
"The pitching and timely hitting have both been amazing," said Trout of the Angels' hot streak. "Our team chemistry is unbelievable."
Not so for Houston, which fired manager Bo Porter on Monday not long after a story in the Houston Chronicle last week reported that general manager Jeff Luhnow and Porter have been at odds, primarily over the manager's in-game decisions.
Porter was in just his second season with the Astros, who are 59-79 this year and sit fourth in the American League West. Houston has already eclipsed last year's win total of 51 and will likely end a three-year run of 100-loss seasons.
"Bo's passion and energy are unparalleled, and his desire to win unquestioned," Luhnow in a statement Monday. "This decision was not made because of our current level of competitiveness in the Major Leagues. I recognize that our win-loss record is largely a product of an organizational strategy for which I am responsible. Rather, I made this decision because I believe we need a new direction in our clubhouse."
Bench coach Dave Trembley was also relieved of his duties, with Lawless taking over as interim manager for the rest of the season and Adam Everett joining the staff as bench coach.
Porter's last game with Houston was a 3-2 win over the last-place Texas Rangers. Matt Dominguez hit a game-tying homer in the eighth inning and Jose Altuve drove in the second run of the go-ahead frame with a single.
Altuve finished the contest 4-for-5 with two doubles to increase his league- leading batting average to .336.
"That's why he is the best hitter in baseball," Porter said of Altuve. "It's great to see him having the type of season that he is having. He got a pitch that he could handle and put a really nice swing on it there."
Altuve's hit helped Houston to its fourth victory in six games.
Getting the start tonight for the Angels will be C.J. Wilson, who is 10-8 with a 4.46 earned run average in 21 games (11 starts) in his career versus Houston.
Wilson last faced the Astros on July 4 and gave up six runs and three homers over 4 1/3 innings of a no-decision. He made one more start after that before going on the disabled list.
The 33-year-old lefty is 2-0 over his last four starts, giving up only seven runs while having to work around 24 hits and 13 walks in a 24-inning span. Wilson did not factor into back-to-back outings versus Oakland, yielding four runs, 12 hits and six walks in 12 innings.
Brad Peacock starts for the Astros looking for his first win since July 8.
Peacock has lost his past three decisions and did not factor into a 5-4 loss to the A's on Wednesday. However, the righty gave up just one run over 5 1/3 innings despite four hits and five walks. He also fanned six.
Peacock is 3-8 with a 5.13 ERA this year and is 2-0 in his career versus the Angels, posting a 5.17 ERA in four meetings with two starts.
The Angels have won 10 of 14 versus the Astros this season, sweeping a four- game set at home in the most recent encounter from July 3-6.