Houston comes up short of the sweep

Astros drop finale to Angels as magic number stays put

Astros' Lance McCullers Jr.
Lance McCullers Jr. allowed some costly walks to the Angels on Thursday. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Lance McCullers Jr. allowed some costly walks to the Angels on Thursday.

After blowing past the Angels in extra innings on Wednesday, the Astros tried to wrap up a series sweep with a win in the finale in Anaheim on Thursday. A much quieter night at the plate by their bats prevented that, though, as Los Angeles would salvage a game to send Houston out of town wearing a loss.

Final Score: Angels 3, Astros 2

Astros' Record: 91-62, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Austin Warren (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (12-5)

Angels take advantage of walks by McCullers Jr.

Both starting pitchers had dominant starts to their nights, with both lineups getting retired in order as no one would reach base in the first three innings of the finale. Houston got the first hit and runner in the top of the fourth and even loaded the bases but came away empty-handed as the game remained scoreless. Los Angeles also got in the hit column in the bottom of the inning against Lance McCullers Jr., getting a leadoff single that would come around to score later on a sac fly to make it a 1-0 Angels lead.

McCullers Jr. rebounded by erasing a leadoff walk in the fifth, and in the top of the sixth, his offense tied things up with an RBI single by Carlos Correa. Houston's starter put himself back on the hook in the bottom of the inning, though, as two walks would set up a two-RBI double by former Astro Jack Mayfield, putting LA back in front 3-1. McCullers Jr. would finish the inning, but that would be it for him: 6.0 IP, 2 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 5 K, 101 P.

Astros drop the finale

Fresh off the paternity list, Ryne Stanek took over out of Houston's bullpen in the bottom of the seventh. He faced four batters, getting two outs while putting two on via a walk and a single, prompting a change to Blake Taylor, who would finish the inning to keep it a two-run game. Houston worked a walk in the top of the eighth but would strand it as they remained behind 3-1.

Seth Martinez was the next reliever for the Astros, coming in to try and keep the score put in the bottom of the eighth, and he did so by erasing a one-out double. Houston would get within a run in the top of the ninth, courtesy of a pinch-hit solo homer by Jason Castro with two outs, but would get stopped there as the Angels would take the finale. The loss keeps Houston's magic number stuck in place as they turn the page to the next leg of their trip.

Up Next: The Astros will continue this road trip on Friday, picking up in Oakland with the opener of a pivotal three-game series at 8:40 PM Central. The pitching matchup in the first game will be Frankie Montas (12-9, 3.57 ERA) for the A's going opposite of Zack Greinke (11-6, 4.11 ERA) for Houston.

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The Braves blew the game open against Hader on Monday night. Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images.

When the Astros signed Josh Hader to anchor the back of the bullpen with Ryan Pressly and Bryan Abreu, we thought the club might have the best 'pen in MLB.

But at this early stage in the season, nobody is confusing these guys with Octavio Dotel, Brad Lidge, and Billy Wager.

Heading into the ninth inning on Monday night, the Astros handed the ball to Hader trailing the Braves 2-1. Instead of keeping the game close and giving the Astros' offense one more chance, the Braves teed off on the closer putting the game out of reach and ultimately winning 6-1.

Hader has one save on the season with an ERA over nine. Which has us wondering, do the Astros have a Hader problem?

Don't miss the video above as ESPN Houston's John Granato and Lance Zierlein weigh in!

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