Jared Walsh, Los Angeles Angels look to earn split with Astros

Apr 5, 2021; Anaheim, California, USA; Los Angeles Angels first baseman Jared Walsh (20) reaches first on a fielders choice against the Houston Astros during the eighth inning at Angel Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Angels will host the Houston Astros on Tuesday afternoon to finish up a two-game series, boasting 2-3-4 hitters in Shohei Ohtani, Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon.

One hitter who may be overlooked by some, but certainly not by the Angels, is No. 5 hitter Jared Walsh. Walsh essentially is taking over the first base job from Albert Pujols, even though the future Hall of Famer got starts in the first two games of the season.

Walsh, a left-handed hitter, gave the Angels a glimpse of what could be late last season, when he was as hot as any hitter in baseball. In 22 games in September, Walsh hit .337 with a 1.113 OPS, nine homers and 26 RBIs.

Picking up where he left off from last year was Walsh’s primary goal heading into the season.

“It was definitely one of the more locked-in times I’ve ever felt, so hopefully I’ll be able to recreate (that) again this summer,” Walsh said. “I just try not to get too high or too low. I’ve had times where I’ve struggled and thought, ‘Is this it? Am I done?’ And times where I’ve had good ABs and felt like Ted Williams. So I just want to stay in the middle because baseball is humbling.”

Walsh got off to a good start, going 2-for-4 with a triple and two RBIs in his first start on Saturday. Then Sunday, he homered twice, including hitting a walk-off, three-run homer. He went 1-for-5 with a run scored and an RBI Monday against Houston.

“I talked to the hitting coaches often this offseason, and it was just about understanding what I did and what adjustments I made to get some pitches that I hadn’t prior,” Walsh said. “I watched a lot of video. So I feel like I’m in a pretty good place right now and I’m excited.”

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Right-hander Dylan Bundy will make his second start of the season for Los Angeles, getting a no-decision in the Angels’ 4-3 Opening Day victory over the White Sox. Bundy pitched well, giving up three runs in six innings, striking out six and walking one.

Bundy is 0-3 with a 4.46 ERA in seven career games (six starts) against the Astros. Houston’s Zack Greinke also will be making his second start after pitching on Opening Day and shutting out the Oakland A’s over six innings in an 8-1 win.

Greinke is 6-5 with a 3.98 ERA in 16 career games (15 starts) vs. the Angels.

He was a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2017 when the Astros won the World Series, so he wasn’t a part of the sign-stealing scandal. Still, he heard boos in Oakland last week and expects to hear more Tuesday in Anaheim.

“Got to hear some boos, finally,” Greinke said. “That wasn’t fun to listen to, I didn’t think, but we played good, so it didn’t matter. Hopefully we’ll keep playing good, and it won’t be as big of an issue.”

The Astros hope left fielder Michael Brantley is able to return to the lineup after being out since getting hit by a pitch on his right wrist on Saturday.

“He’s a lot better than he was (Sunday),” Baker said. “When he’s coming back, it just depends on his body and how he heals. We dodged a major bullet by him having no fractures or broken wrists or anything like that. I’m sure his bone is bruised, and whenever you have a bone bruise, different people heal at different time intervals. We’ve just got to wait and see on a daily basis without rushing him back.”

Brantley started the season hot, getting six hits in his first nine at-bats, including a home run.

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–Field Level Media