HOUSTON — Symbiosis carries clubs through the ups and downs of a six-month schedule, and two weeks into their season the Houston Astros have confirmed this truth.
After their pitching led the way to a winning homestand to open the schedule, the Astros (8-4) relied on their offense to lug the weight during their first road trip through Seattle and Oakland. Before their series finale against the Athletics was postponed by rain (to made up as part of a doubleheader on Sept. 9) the Astros rallied from a five-run deficit for the second time in three games to post a 10-6 victory on Saturday.
Right-hander Mike Fiers was the beneficiary against the Mariners on April 12. On Saturday, right-hander Lance McCullers coughed up five early runs and watched with relief from the dugout as the offense removed him from the hook.
“They picked me up for sure,” McCullers said. “They did it earlier in the week against Seattle. This offense has no limits. We can go off for 10, 12, 15 in a couple innings or we can go off for that in one. It was good to see them continue to battle. My hat’s definitely tipped to them.”
Houston will open a brief four-game homestand against the Los Angeles Angels (6-7) on Monday with right-hander Charlie Morton (0-1, 4.09 ERA) on the mound. Morton, who had his scheduled start on Sunday pushed back by the rainout, has been solid in two outings this season, both against the Mariners, but was on the wrong end the last time the Astros struggled to score runs, a 6-0 shutout loss to Seattle on April 5. Houston has strung together four consecutive victories since.
Morton has faced the Angels only twice in his career, posting a 1-0 record with a 4.63 ERA. He did not face the Angels during his injury-shortened 2016 campaign.
The Astros expect shortstop Carlos Correa to be in the lineup on Monday. Correa sustained a left hand contusion after being hit by a pitch on Saturday.
The Angels dropped their fifth consecutive game on Sunday, falling 1-0 to the Royals in Kansas City. They amassed only three runs in the three-game series and have failed to score more than three runs in any of the games during their skid.
Right-hander Jesse Chavez (1-1, 5.40 ERA) will open the series for the Angels. He is 3-1 with a 2.90 ERA in his career against the Astros (21 games), but his start on Monday night will be just the sixth of his career against Houston. While pitching for the Toronto Blue Jays and Los Angeles Dodgers last season, Chavez did not face the Astros.
“Any lineup in baseball can be pitched to, but Houston presents some challenges because they have good balance and really some very, very good young hitters and veteran hitters,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “I think for Jesse to be effective, you have to hit your spots and you have to hit them consistently. And we’re confident he will.”
Houston opened the 2016 season series with the Angels by winning 11 of 12 games before dropping five of the final seven contests.