After taking some time away from baseball to deal with a family tragedy, Tommy Hanson returns to the mound for the first time in nearly a month when his Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim begin a three-game series with the Houston Astros.
Hanson's return comes three weeks after being placed on the restricted list to deal with the aftermath of the death of his stepbrother. He is 2-1 with a 3.86 earned run average in five starts this season, his first with the Angels, and he has not pitched for the club since May 4. The right-hander did throw a 75- pitch simulated game on Saturday.
"Obviously, this isn't something that just goes away, but I do feel better," Hanson told MLB.com. "I think time kind of healed a little bit. So, I'm good. I miss the team. I miss being around all the guys. I feel like I'm ready to get back out there and help the team. We've been winning, so I'm going to get back in there and do my thing."
Hanson, 26, sustained his first career loss to Houston back on April 12, allowing five runs over five innings of a 5-0 decision. He fell to 4-1 with a 2.11 ERA in seven career meetings with the Astros.
Winners in 10 of their past 12, the Angels managed a split of their four-game home-and-home Freeway Series with the Los Angeles Dodgers by taking the final two meetings in Anaheim. They edged out the Dodgers 3-2 on Thursday, with Chris Nelson driving in Howie Kendrick with a single in the sixth inning for the winning run.
Kendrick scored all three of the Angels' runs, while Jason Vargas allowed two runs on five hits and struck out six over seven innings to win his fourth straight start. The win caps a tremendous month for Vargas, who went 5-0 with a 2.30 ERA over six starts in May.
"I was able to get ahead early with my fastball, which set up my change-up. It was just one of those nights. Our guys made great plays," Vargas said.
Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton was a scratch from the starting lineup with back spasms for the second time in three games, though he did come in as a defensive replacement in the eighth inning.
The Astros are coming off a series victory, having taken three of four from the Colorado Rockies in their home-and-home series. Chris Carter accounted for half of Houston's run total in the sixth inning on Thursday with a three-run homer to key a 7-5 win.
Matt Dominguez hit a solo home run and J.D. Martinez went 4-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored for the Astros, who have split their past 14 games overall.
Lucas Harrell snapped a string of four losing decisions as he gave up four runs -- three earned -- on eight hits over 5 2/3 innings.
"I was just battling the whole game and we had to grind it out," said Harrell. "I just wanted to keep things close and give the guys at the plate a chance to win it."
Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel is set to make his fifth start of the season tonight, having gone 1-1 with a 5.18 ERA in his first four following a 4.96 ERA in six relief appearances to begin the season.
Keuchel suffered a loss last time out on Sunday versus Oakland as he was charged with six runs -- four earned -- on nine hits over six innings of work. He fell to 1-2 with a 5.09 ERA on the season.
The 25-year-old had never faced the Angels prior to this season and faced them in relief on May 7, helping the Astros secure a victory. Keuchel, though, gave up a run on two hits in 1 1/3 innings of work.
The Astros and Angels have split six meetings this season, with Los Angeles winning two of three at home from April 12-14.