MLB Baseball

Final 1 2 3   4 5 6   7 8 9   R H E
LA Angels0 0 1 1 2 0 2 1 0 7110
Houston0 0 4 0 0 0 1 0 0 591
  W: K. Middleton (6-1)   L: C. Devenski (8-5)   S: B. Parker (7)
5:08 PM PT6:08 PM MT7:08 PM CT8:08 PM ET20:08 ET0:08 GMT8:08 5:08 PM MST7:08 PM EST7:38 PM VEN4:08 UAE (+1)7:08 PM CT, September 24, 2017
Minute Maid Park, Houston, Texas  Attendance: 36,756

Angels look to get much-needed win vs. Astros

HOUSTON -- When the Los Angeles Angels bolstered their lineup with the additions of left fielder Justin Upton and second baseman Brandon Phillips at the waiver trade deadline, the acquisitions were deemed impactful enough that the club could present itself as postseason contenders.

Instead, the Angels (76-78) have regressed during the stretch run, and head into Sunday's series finale against the Houston Astros on a six-game losing streak.

With Saturday's 6-2 loss, the Angels fell to 7-13 in September. They have managed only two runs over the last three games and, despite tweaks to the starting lineup and Upton doing his part to help carry the offense with six home runs and 12 RBIs in 20 games, the Angels are spinning their wheels losing ground in the chase for the second American League wild card and postseason contention.

With eight games left on the schedule the Angels are four games behind the Minnesota Twins and just about out of time. A loss to the on Sunday would result in a second consecutive sweep and all but certain elimination.

"We can't go 2-0 tomorrow. We've got one game," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "We've got to slice it down pitch to pitch with that focus. Certainly, there's some moves you're going to make from a tactical standpoint, maybe a pitcher is not pitching now as deep in games as he may have in April or May. You're certainly going to match up more in your bullpen. So, those are things that we've been doing for the last month."

The Angels will turn to left-hander Tyler Skaggs (2-6, 4.30 ERA) to help keep their postseason hopes afloat. In six career starts against the Astros (95-59), Skaggs is 3-2 with a 2.67 ERA including two starts against Houston this season where he is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA over 12 innings.

Skaggs missed 85 games on the disabled list with a right oblique muscle strain.

All-Star right-hander Lance McCullers (7-3, 3.97 ERA) will make just his second start for the Astros since July 30 in the series finale.

McCullers has battled a number of ailments this season, first serving two stints on the disabled list with back woes before being sidelined since his last start on Sept. 6 with arm fatigue. McCullers, 0-1 with an 8.24 ERA over four starts in the second half, is 3-1 with a 1.55 ERA over eight career starts against the Angels.

With outfielder Jake Marisnick lost for the season with a broken right thumb, the Astros have been working with center fielder Cameron Maybin to tweak his swing mechanics. Maybin, acquired at the same deadline as Upton and Phillips, opened his Astros' career with a flourish, belting three home runs and producing seven RBIs over his first six games with the ball club.

Maybin has slumped badly since.

After going 0-for-4 on Saturday, Maybin is batting .037 (1-for-27) with one RBI and six strikeouts and no walks over nine games (six starts).

"Lately he's gotten a little bit mechanical and caught in between with some of his hitting mechanics," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "Getting him some regular at-bats will be nice for him because he's just one click away from getting back to being productive. I like what I've seen from him even though he's had a tough week."

Updated September 23, 2017

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