Los Angeles and Houston close out the first half of the season on Sunday, with right-hander Jose Urquidy (0-0, 4.91 ERA) starting the rubber match of the series for the Astros, while left-hander Jose Suarez (2-1, 5.40 ERA) makes his sixth MLB start for the Angels.
Urquidy did not factor in the decision in his major league debut on July 2 at Colorado after allowing two runs on six hits and one walk with four strikeouts over 3 2/3 innings. He became the first homegrown Mexican-born player to appear in a game for the Astros.
Urquidy was 5-3 with a 3.40 ERA across two levels in the minors with 104 strikeouts over 76 2/3 innings and 15 games.
Suarez also came away with a no-decision in his previous start on July 2 at Texas after working four innings and allowing three runs (two earned) on three hits and two walks with a career-high seven strikeouts. Suarez has recorded 22 of his 26 strikeouts with his changeup, which opposing hitters are batting just .143 (7-for-49) against. He is ranked by Baseball America as the Angels' No. 4 prospect.
In manners large and small, Astros outfielder Josh Reddick continues to make an impact, with his second plate appearance Saturday exemplifying the value he routinely provides his ballclub.
Reddick opened the scoring in the fourth inning of the Astros' 4-0 win over the Angels at Minute Maid Park with a two-out, run-scoring single against left-hander Andrew Heaney. That was the fifth RBI over 70 plate appearances for the left-handed-hitting Reddick against a southpaw. Reddick enters Saturday with a .845 OPS against lefties.
By providing quality plate appearances against left-handed pitching, Reddick affords Astros manager A.J. Hinch the opportunity to occasionally rest left-handed-hitting outfielder/designated hitter Michael Brantley (.868 OPS against southpaws), who sat Saturday against Heaney. That consistent productivity will serve as an asset as the Astros prep for another postseason run.
"He's been playing a lot and most of that is he's earned it but some of it has been he's been the healthy guy," Hinch said of Reddick. "His ability to stay in there and hang in there and not give away at-bats against left-handed pitching has been a big step forward for him really in the last couple of years. He's been better and better as he's gotten exposed to more and more left-handed pitching.
"He's not overswinging. He can use the whole field. It's been nice to watch him get challenged (and) work on something to stay in the lineup. You've got to be competitive against lefties, and he's responded."
As the Angels continue to strive for normalcy on the heels of the shocking death of pitcher Tyler Skaggs last Monday, celebrating his life and place in the clubhouse provides moments of healing. Heaney offered his tribute Saturday, honoring his close friend with a looping breaking ball on the first pitch of the bottom of the first inning against Astros right fielder George Springer, who respectfully took the pitch without offering a swing.
The Angels have one final game before the All-Star break, a respite that should provide the club additional time to reflect on Skaggs.
"I just didn't want to do anything that wasn't genuine and like who I feel like I am," Heaney said. "I thought it'd be kind of cool. When you talk about Skaggs in the baseball world, everybody -- the first thing they would think about -- would be his curveball. That was his claim to fame. Honestly, it was just something that felt right."
--Field Level Media
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