Houston is now 4-1
Angels rally late, hand Astros first loss of 2021
Starting the day as one of the last few undefeated teams in the league, the Astros entered this short two-game series with the Angels in Anaheim looking to translate their success against the A's. This game would be arguably their toughest so far on paper, with some uncertainty about their current fifth starter Luis Garcia on the mound and going up against Los Angels, who capped off a 3-1 series win against the White sox with a walk-off victory on Sunday night.
It would live up to the expected difficulty, with the Astros dropping their first game of the early season as the Angels would put together an eighth-inning rally to put both teams at 4-1.
Final Score: Angels 7, Astros 6
Astros' Record: 4-1, tied for first in the AL West
Winning Pitcher: Tony Watson (1-0)
Losing Pitcher: Joe Smith (0-1)
Houston keeps to their scoring ways early
Houston jumped out to an immediate lead to keep their scoring ways from Oakland alive. The top of the order was aggressive against Jose Quintana, getting three-straight singles, the third an RBI-single by Alex Bregman to start the scoring. Carlos Correa brought in another on a two-out RBI before a wild pitch brought in a third to put the Astros in front 3-0 before the Angels could get to the plate.
They put together another threat in the top of the fourth, getting back-to-back walks to start the inning, followed two batters later by a one-out RBI-single by Jose Altuve to make it 4-0. They went on to load the bases but would strand all three runners, leaving the door open for Los Angeles.
Angels crack Garcia their second time through the order
Luis Garcia looked impressive through the first three innings, keeping the Angels hitless and allowing just two baserunners via walks. In the bottom of the fourth, Mike Trout started a rally by depositing a hanging changeup 417 feet away to get Los Angeles on the board.
Three of the following four batters would single, bringing in another run, making it a 4-2 game. Garcia then loaded the bases with a one-out walk, prompting a pitching change by Dusty Baker to bring in Ryne Stanek to try and stop the bleeding. Stanek would handle the pressure perfectly, sitting down the next two batters to leave the bases loaded. Garcia's final line: 3.1 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 68 P.
Angels rally in the eighth, hand Astros their first loss
Brooks Raley took over on the mound in the bottom of the fifth, not his prettiest inning, as he would allow a run to come in on two hits and a walk to make it a one-run game. Houston's offense manufactured a run of their own in the top of the sixth, with Martin Maldonado leading off with a walk, moving to second on a single by Alex Bregman, then hustling in to score on an RBI-single by Yordan Alvarez.
Bryan Abreu gave his team two scoreless innings, allowing only a one-out single in the seventh while retiring the other six batters he faced to maintain the two-run lead. Joe Smith entered as the setup-man in the bottom of the eighth but would not record an out, giving up two singles and hitting a pinch-hitting Shohei Ohtani to load the bases.
Blake Taylor entered to try and get out of the jam but instead would watch the Angels take their first lead of the night, putting together a four-run inning to jump in front 7-5. Despite a one-out solo home run by Kyle Tucker to make it a one-run game, Houston would come up short in the top of the ninth, earning their first loss of the season and moving down into a tie with the now 4-1 Angels for first place in the division.
Up Next: Tuesday's finale of this short two-game series will be an early start at 3:07 PM. Zack Greinke (1-0, 0.00 ERA) will make his second start of the year, while Griffin Canning (2-3, 3.99 ERA in 2020) will make his first start of the season.