ANAHEIM -- The Astros' move to the American League West was supposed to give a team like the Angels an occasional soft spot in their schedule, with 19 games against a team that went into the season with the lowest payroll in baseball and no real hopes of contending.
So far, though, the Angels haven't been able to take advantage.
Sunday's defeat to the Astros (20-37) gave the Angels three straight losses to start the four-game home series and moved them to 3-6 against their new division rivals this season. The Angels won two of three in the first meeting in Anaheim, one of them on a walk-off, then dropped two of three at Minute Maid Park from May 7-9, with the only victory a comeback effort.
Tommy Hanson gave up five runs on Friday and the offense combined to plate four runs on 15 hits while going 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position the next two games. The Angels -- with a payroll about six times the size -- have been outscored 38-29 by Houston and came into Sunday with a .244/.315/.431 slash line against a pitching staff with the highest ERA in the Majors.
"With the lineup we have, they've just done a really good job of not making mistakes," said Angels outfielder J.B. Shuck, who spent the first five seasons of his pro career in the Astros organization. "Their starters have done a very good job of keeping us off-balance and then their bullpen has done a great job of not letting us get in our groove."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less