The first order of business for the Los Angeles Angels following their 8-2 road loss to the Houston Astros on Thursday was a status check on superstar center fielder Mike Trout.
Trout departed in the fifth inning after being struck by a Cristian Javier pitch during his second plate appearance in the fourth inning. Trout was hit flush on the pad protecting his left elbow and, despite being in obvious discomfort, remained in the game through the bottom of the frame.
He was replaced by Scott Schebler in the fifth, but Angels manager Joe Maddon said he expects Trout to be in the lineup for the second game of the series Friday at Minute Maid Park.
As for the loss, the Angels finished 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10 runners total. An inability to produce timely hits has been a recurring theme of late.
“That’s what it appears to be to me,” Maddon said. “We have the right guys out there and the right guys up and it hasn’t panned out but it will. We’ve left chicken on the bone.”
Left-hander Andrew Heaney (1-1, 5.65 ERA) will start for the Angels Friday. He did not factor into the decision in his last start despite carrying a one-hit shutout into the sixth inning against the Minnesota Twins, allowing two runs on two hits and three walks with six strikeouts over 5 1/3 innings.
Heaney has allowed two runs over his last 11 1/3 innings and two starts. In nine career starts against the Astros, Heaney is 3-3 with a 3.28 ERA. He did not face Houston in 2020.
Right-hander Zack Greinke (2-1, 2.81 ERA) will get the starting nod for Houston. Greinke delivered his best start of the young season in his previous outing, working eight shutout innings while allowing four hits and amassing six strikeouts without a walk in a 1-0 win over the Seattle Mariners on April 17. Greinke reached 2,700 career strikeouts in the start and joined Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer as the only active pitchers to have reached that benchmark.
Greinke is 6-5 with a 3.88 ERA over 17 career appearances (16 starts) against the Angels, for whom he went 6-2 with a 3.53 ERA over 13 starts in 2012. He did not factor into the decision when facing the Angels on April 6, when he allowed two runs on five hits and one walk over seven innings in a 4-2 road win.
The Astros received a measure of good news prior to their series-opening victory when manager Dusty Baker announced that second baseman Jose Altuve could return as soon as this weekend against the Angels. Altuve missed his seventh consecutive game due to health and safety protocols Thursday, and the Astros have struggled to replace his bat atop their order.
Prior to shortstop Carlos Correa batting leadoff for the first time in his 622nd career game, the Astros had outfielders Myles Straw, Kyle Tucker and Chas McCormick share leadoff duties. That trio finished that stretch a combined 2-for-24 with seven strikeouts. Correa went 2-for-5 with three runs and two RBIs, an auspicious performance to be sure, but the Astros are still longing for Altuve.
“He’ll be a big boost,” Baker said. “We miss him tremendously. Not only him as a player but him as a person.”
–Field Level Media