Who would have thought that the Houston Astros would be higher than the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the American League West standings at any point during this season?
That's situation these teams find themselves on Friday when they begin a three-game series at Angel Stadium
Los Angeles, which is a game back of the Astros in the division's cellar, kicked off its home slate by getting swept in a three-game series by the Oakland Athletics, culminating with Thursday's 8-1 setback. Howie Kendrick's RBI double was the only extra-bast hit for LA, which has an AL- worst 2-7 record and is 0-3 at home for the first time since 1994.
"We're a good club, and we are going to turn this around," Angels manager Mike Scioscia vowed. "We all believe this. You can say, 'Go out and win,' but if you don't put the steps in place to win, it's not going to add up to where you want to be."
Los Angeles, which lost six of nine and 14 of 20 to start last season, has dropped all three of its series to start the year, has lost four straight games overall and is already 5 1/2 games out of first place in the division.
"You have to be optimistic," designated hitter Mark Trumbo said. "We have too much talent to not be. It's very unfortunate that we're in the place we are, but that's the reality. We look forward to keep grinding things away and trying to weather the storm until we click and start taking it to people."
Hoping to turn it around for the Angels on Friday will be righty Tommy Hanson, who won his debut with his new club on Saturday. Hanson, acquired from Atlanta for reliever Jordan Walden this offseason, limited the Texas Rangers to three runs and six hits in six innings.
"Tommy did a great job," Scioscia said. "In BP the ball was flying. We said, `Anything that gets up in the air was going out.' With those conditions, Tommy pitched a terrific game to get through six."
Houston, meanwhile, will hand the ball to right-hander Bud Norris, who is 1-1 through two starts with a 3.18 ERA. After beating the Rangers to open his campaign, Norris was defeated by Oakland on Saturday, as he surrendered five runs (2 earned) and six hits in 5 2/3 innings.
"I threw real well," said Norris, who has never faced the Angels. "I got behind in a couple of counts."
Houston found its offense in winning its first series of the year in Seattle. After getting blanked in the first game of the set, the Astros scored 24 times over the final two contests. In Wednesday's finale, Chris Carter finished 3- for-5 with a two-run home run and two runs scored to lead Houston to an 8-3 win.
"Everybody's confidence was still up, as a team we had better at bats today and yesterday," Carter said. "Everybody's happy as a team, (to) just go out there and show we can still do it, not to get down, the first two series we got beat pretty good, but this series we came back and hopefully, it keeps rolling."
Brad Peacock (1-1) limited the Mariners to three runs on four hits and a walk over five-plus frames to earn the victory.
This will be Houston's first visit to Anaheim since 2007 when the Angels took two of three. The Astros had won two of three the first time they squared off in 2004.