Monday, June 20, 2016

Fister looks to extend winning ways in opener vs. Angels

The Astros are 9-0 in the last nine games started by Doug Fister (7-3, 3.26 ERA), and they will look to keep that streak going Monday night in the opener of a three-game series with the Los Angeles Angels at Minute Maid Park.
One of those nine wins came against the Angels on May 29, when the 32-year-old right-hander tossed six innings of five-hit ball in Anaheim, allowing three runs (one earned). The Astros won that game, 8-6, in 13 innings.
"One of the things that happens when Doug pitches is we have to be ready," Houston manager A.J. Hinch said after Fister's last start, a 5-2 win in St. Louis. "He pitches quick, he pitches efficiently, he throws strikes, they put the ball in play. Teams don't wait around. They try to attack his pitches that are up. You have to play with an alert approach when he's on the mound, and what comes with that is a little bit more attention to detail, a little bit more energy out of the team, and it's turned into a lot of wins."
The Angels will counter with Jhoulys Chacin, who enters the game with a 3-4 record and an ERA of 5.00. Chacin's performance has dipped in June, with the 28-year-old right-hander posting a 1-1 record and 7.04 ERA in his three starts.
But Chacin's last performance at Minute Maid Park was a good one. In 2013, Chacin (then with the Rockies) allowed two runs in seven innings against the Astros, striking out nine while surrendering five hits.
The Astros and Angels, who battled until the final day of the 2015 season for a Wild Card spot (won by the Astros), play a backloaded schedule against each other this season. In fact, Monday's game represents just the fourth between the division rivals this year.
That will soon change, though, with the clubs set to face off six times in the final two weeks of June. The Angels enter the series 2 1/2 games back of the Astros for third place in the American League West.
Things to know about this game
• Second baseman Jose Altuve is hitting .393 in June with a .487 on-base percentage, and he'll enter the series fresh after receiving a partial day off as Houston's designated hitter Sunday. It was Altuve's first game as DH this season. Altuve is hitting .545 (6-for-11) against the Angels in 2016.
• The Astros have a 17-8 record since moving right fielder George Springer to the leadoff spot in the batting order May 24. Two of those wins ended on walk-off hits from Springer, including a 5-4 win at Minute Maid Park on Saturday over the Reds.
• The Astros have won nine of their last 11 games at Minute Maid Park and are 19-15 overall at home this season.

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