If you wonder why opposing teams seem to clean out their closets to find lefthanders to start against the Astros, observe yet another example Monday as the Champs wasted a four-ht effort by Lance McCullers in a 2-1 defeat to Anaheim that tumbled Houston from the AL West lead by percentage points.
Heaney meanie miney moe
(c) Associated Press
Andrew Heaney topped McCullers with four hits allowed and one run surrendered in eight innings while striking out ten. A model of efficiency, the Angels were 2-for-3 with runners in scoring position and left just two runners on the basepaths all night.
The Astros, meanwhile, with George Springer back in the lineup, managed six hits, were 1-for-5 in scoring position, hit into three double plays and stranded four.
The Angels struck first before a crowd of 28,229 Monday night fans. Ex-Astro Luis Valbuena smacked a 3-2 pitch to right that plated the annoying Andrelton Simmons in the second.
Houston answered quickly when Josh Reddick doubled to center and Max Stassi hopped a grounder through the middle to tie it.
Anaheim drove home the decisive run in the sixth. Justin Upton singled to push across Martin Maldonado. Thanks to Heaney and some ninth inning magic, Anaheim snuffed out the final Astros chance in the ninth.
With Justin Anderson attempting his first save, Springer led off with a single then Alex Bregman tagged a foul fly into the right field corner. Kole Calhoun reached into the stands and snagged the ball, wheeled and nailed Springer attempting to advance. Calhoun's throw sailed offline but Simmons had room to tag Springer then tag him a second time for good measure when George overslid the base.
Jose Altuve, who has been as cold at the plate as he's ever been (0-for-16), punched a single and moved to second on a passed ball by Maldonado. Carlos Correa was intentionally walked before Yuli Gurriel bounced out to third to end the game.
If Houston fans were looking for redemption after the Rockets dropped Game 1 of their Western Conference Championship to Golden State, they simply stayed up late for a second dose of disappointment.
The Astros seek to reclaim first place Tuesday night when Gerrit Cole (4-1) duels in the California sunset against Jaime Barria (3-1) in a battle of righthanders at the Big A. The first pitch is slated for 9:07 pm Central time barring any earthquakes.
- Bob Hulsey