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MLB: Angels vie for series win in finale vs. Astros

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The Los Angeles Angels seemingly have spent the past several years searching for quality pitching, either via free agency or through homegrown talent that doesn’t materialize.

Left-hander Jose Suarez has made a play of late to throw his name in the hat as a member of the 2022 Angels’ rotation. He followed his first complete game last weekend against the Texas Rangers with a strong start in the Angels’ 4-2 road win over the Houston Astros on Saturday.

Suarez held Houston to one run on three hits and three walks with seven strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings. His strikeout total was one shy of the career high set in his start against Texas.

“By him doing all this there’s an optimistic approach to watching him play right now,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “That’s really promising.”

The opportunity at hand isn’t lost upon Suarez, who aims to keep plugging along until the season ends.

“I feel like I’ve been doing my job,” Suarez said, “and that’s the most important thing I can do.”

Right-hander Jaime Barria (2-3, 5.16 ERA) will start the series finale for the visiting Angels (70-72) on Sunday. Los Angeles is going for the series win after falling 10-5 on Friday.

Barria is 0-3 with a 5.96 ERA over his last six starts but matched his season high of seven innings in his previous start against the Rangers on Monday, allowing three runs on eight hits with three strikeouts in the Angels’ 4-0 loss.

In his lone appearance against the Astros this season on Aug. 14, Barria allowed three runs on seven hits and one walk with one strikeout over three innings in an 8-2 loss. He is 1-4 with a 4.66 ERA over 10 career appearances (nine starts) against Houston.

Right-hander Lance McCullers Jr. (11-4, 3.19) has the starting assignment for the Astros (82-59) in the rubber match Sunday.

McCullers earned the victory in his last start on Monday, allowing two runs on four hits and four walks with seven strikeouts over six innings in what was his third start against the Seattle Mariners in his last four outings.

McCullers was 2-2 with a 3.12 ERA over six starts in August, with the Astros going 3-3 in those appearances. He is 4-4 with a 3.01 ERA in 16 career starts against the Angels, including a 1-1 record and 2.29 ERA in three encounters this season.

The Astros have been pleased with the contributions of right-hander Luis Garcia, who is sure to earn some American League Rookie of the Year votes as a confirmation for his performance.

However, including the five innings he logged Saturday, Garcia has worked 139 innings — his most as a professional. The Astros remain optimistic that Garcia will play a crucial role assuming they qualify for the postseason and have been judicious of late monitoring his workload.

Still, Garcia has logged only 15 2/3 innings and averaged just 80 pitches in his last three starts while pitching to a 5.17 ERA. His command, normally a strength, waivered against the Angels.

“That was the first time in a while his stuff hasn’t looked the same,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “We’ve been limiting his innings, and we were hoping to take him a little deeper into the game to prepare him for these last three weeks. It’s uncharted waters for him. He’s certainly strong enough and determined enough. I know he’ll be sharp and much better next time.”

–Field Level Media

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