|6:07 PM PT7:07 PM MT8:07 PM CT9:07 PM ET21:07 ET1:07 GMT9:07 6:07 PM MST8:07 PM EST8:37 PM VEN5:07 UAE (+1)8:07 PM CT, September 28, 2019
Angel Stadium of Anaheim, Anaheim, California Attendance: 35,814
Angels face tall order in Astros' Verlander
Only a few days after being named to the All-Star team for the first time in his career, Tommy La Stella fouled a ball off his right leg, fracturing his tibia on July 2.
La Stella missed almost three months before returning to the lineup Friday night as the designated hitter for the Los Angeles Angels against the Houston Astros. He likely will sit out the game Saturday but will return to the lineup for the season finale on Sunday.
La Stella, whose name shares a derivation from the word "star," made the trip to the All-Star Game along with the Angels' other representative, Mike Trout. La Stella was unable to play in the game, though.
He went 0-for-4 on Friday after hitting .300 with career highs of 16 home runs and 44 RBIs in 78 games before the injury. And though the Angels' games this weekend are meaningless in terms of trying to reach the postseason, they are meaningful to La Stella.
"I think the goal in the beginning was to get back and that we were going to be competing (for a playoff spot) at the end of the season," La Stella said. "Just because that's changed, I don't think the goal has changed. The goal is just to get out there, get some game reps and get the visual of being on the field and seeing the pitcher. Let that be something I can take into the offseason."
La Stella was the Angels' primary second baseman the first half of the season after serving mostly as a utility player in his career before this season. He's under club control for next season, so La Stella is expected back in 2020.
"That's the whole reason we're playing him," Angels manager Brad Ausmus said. "To get back on the field, get over that mental hurdle of doing what he had done so well the first half of the season, and then he can go into the offseason knowing that he's game ready."
Left-handed rookie Jose Suarez, 2-6 with a 7.34 ERA in 18 games (14 starts), will be on the mound Saturday for Los Angeles.
Astros right-hander Justin Verlander (20-6, 2.53 ERA), who will make his final start of the regular season Saturday, became a 20-game winner for the second time in his career on Sunday when he beat the Angels.
"Call me old school, but wins mean something to me," Verlander said. "I think our job as a starting pitcher is to be out there late in games and pitch a lot of innings. That's how you win ballgames.
"It's a fickle stat. You can lose some close ones when you pitch well, and you can win when you don't pitch well, but over the course of 34 starts, if you do your job, more often than not you're going to come out with a winning record."
Verlander, who is expected to get the start in Game 1 of the ALDS on Oct. 4 against either Oakland or Tampa Bay, is 2-1 with a 4.91 ERA in three starts against the Angels this season. He is 14-10 with a 3.19 ERA in 28 career starts against Los Angeles.
Suarez has made three appearances, including two starts, against the Astros, going 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA.
--Field Level Media
Updated September 28, 2019