Mike Fiers hopes to finally put together back-to-back quality starts, and if he can, he may be able to extend the Houston Astros' longest winning streak of the season.
Fiers looks to extend the momentum from his latest outing and the Astros' pitching staff as he faces the Los Angeles Angels on Friday night.
Houston (20-28) finally put together a three-game winning streak with Thursday's 4-1 win over Baltimore, fueled by George Springer's two home runs. After sweeping that series, the Astros now look to win four straight games for the first time since a five-game run July 19-24.
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Houston had lost its previous four games while scoring five runs but totaled 11 against the Orioles while holding them to seven. The Astros set a major league record with 52 strikeouts in the three-game set and became the first team since 1913 to strike out at least 15 batters in three consecutive games.
That trend might end with Fiers' 6.4 strikeouts per nine innings being the lowest of any Houston pitcher besides Doug Fister.
Like his team, Fiers (3-2, 4.35 ERA) has been up and down, especially in his last five starts. He tossed seven solid innings in three but failed to escape the fifth in the other two.
However, the right-hander logged one of his best outings Saturday when he held Texas to two runs in seven innings while striking out six without a walk. Still, his three-game winning streak was snapped in the 2-1 loss.
''You get a starting pitcher that goes out there and gives you that kind of outing, more times than not you are going to come out ahead and feel really good about it,'' manager A.J. Hinch said. ''I still feel really good about what Fiers did, but unfortunately, it was in a loss.''
Fiers can feel pretty good about his two 2015 starts against the Angels (21-26). He logged a pair of quality starts, surrendering 10 hits and six runs in 13 2/3 innings while striking out 11.
He did give up four home runs, one each to Mike Trout and Kole Calhoun and two to C.J. Cron. Those three are a combined 6 for 17 against Fiers.
Los Angeles will counter with Matt Shoemaker, who has struggled with Houston.
Shoemaker (2-5, 6.81) has a 5.59 ERA in three career starts and two relief appearances against the Astros despite his latest outing against them dropping that ERA more than three points. He held Houston to three hits over seven innings of a 3-0 loss July 30, walking one and striking out seven.
Shoemaker's latest start brought a similar stat line. The right-hander is coming off Saturday's gem in which he held Baltimore to three hits in 7 1/3 innings of a 3-1 loss. Shoemaker struck out a career-high 12 without issuing a walk, throwing 71 of 95 pitches for strikes.
''When you get a starter (to) have an outing like that, you expect to win the game,'' manager Mike Scioscia said. ''It's tough.''
Jose Altuve (4 for 9) and Colby Rasmus (2 for 6) each homered off Shoemaker last season.
Altuve is in a 1-for-21 slump and Rasmus has an 0-for-12 drought, but Luis Valbuena has homered in three straight games.