Astros face Angels on cusp of AL West title

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The Oakland Athletics postponed the inevitable Friday night with their victory over the Texas Rangers, merely delaying what will soon serve as a coronation for the Houston Astros.

Houston clinched a share of its third consecutive American League West pennant with a 6-4 victory over the visiting Los Angeles Angels on Friday in the opener of a three-game set.

The Astros (101-53) need only one additional win to make it official, and after claiming their sixth straight victory overall and their sixth in a row head-to-head against the Angels, that win could come soon.

A victory over the Angels would secure what many deemed an afterthought for the juggernaut Astros. Still, even with a second World Series championship serving as their ultimate goal, the Astros aren’t scoffing at what winning another division title would represent for the organization.

“I know a lot of people think certain parts of the season are foregone conclusions or the talent on these teams is supposed to produce these wins. It’s not easy,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “We don’t read our own press clippings, we don’t really care where people rank us or where people think we are. We show up to win.

“We have a real team bond in the clubhouse, which I appreciate. We have a number of guys that block out all the noise and just show up ready to play. I love the fact that we show up on a daily basis with a pretty clear mind and one objective.”

Wade Miley (14-5, 3.71 ERA) will start Saturday for the Astros.

The left-hander rebounded from a trio of rough outings by allowing two runs on seven hits and two walks with four strikeouts over six innings in a 12-3 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Sunday. Prior to that difficult stretch, Miley had won seven consecutive decisions while posting a 2.93 ERA over 12 starts.

He is 5-0 with a 2.09 ERA over six career starts against the Angels, including a 3-0 record and 2.20 ERA over three starts this season.

Left-hander Patrick Sandoval (0-3, 4.91 ERA) will make his ninth appearance and eighth start of the season Saturday for the Angels. It will mark his first career appearance against the Astros, who selected Sandoval in the 11th round of the 2015 draft and traded him to the Angels for catcher Martin Maldonado on July 26, 2018.

Sandoval did not factor in the decision in his last start, Sunday against the Tampa Bay Rays, after allowing one run on two hits and one walk with four strikeouts over four innings. He has yielded three or fewer runs in six of eight appearances.

The Angels have been dazzled thus far by Sandoval, a 22-year-old Southern California native who made his debut on Aug. 9 in relief against the Cincinnati Reds.

“I’ve been very impressed by him,” Angels manager Brad Ausmus said of Sandoval. “I like his stuff. I like the makeup. He’s probably also gotten to the big leagues quicker than we anticipated. He seems to have the stuff and the intangibles to pitch at this level and succeed.”

–Field Level Media

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