Despite an expensive and star-studded roster, the Los Angeles Angels have matched the worst start in franchise history. Their next opponent has spent far less for its similarly poor results.
The Angels will try to begin a turnaround behind the unbeaten C.J. Wilson as they open a three-game road series against the major league-worst Houston Astros on Tuesday night.
Los Angeles (11-20) has struggled to get on track despite yet another high-priced offseason addition, outfielder Josh Hamilton, that contributed to the team's payroll reaching $142 million. He hasn't helped lift a lineup that includes Albert Pujols, as the Angels are ninth in the AL in runs.
The pitching has been even worse, with the club ranking second to last in the league with a 4.78 ERA - better only than the Astros' 5.75.
The Angels dropped three of four to Baltimore over the weekend, matching their 31-game mark from their inaugural 1961 season.
"We just need to win games," second baseman Howie Kendrick said. "Nobody here wants to lose. I think every guy is out there competing, giving their best, so eventually, at some point, it's got to turn around."
Los Angeles has batted .229 in its last 15 games and Hamilton is hitting .208 with 38 strikeouts in 125 at_bats. The Angels' 23 errors are among the most in the majors.
"We have to do a much better job making pitches, getting hitters out and controlling the defensive side of this game," manager Mike Scioscia said. "We've been terrible at that."
With ace Jered Weaver recovering from a fractured left elbow, Wilson (3-0, 4.04 ERA) has been one of Scioscia's few effective starters. The left-hander has collected all of his wins in his last four games with a 3.42 ERA, a span that started with a six-inning, one-run effort in a 4-1 victory over Houston on April 14.
That moved Wilson to 3-0 with a 2.94 ERA in five career starts against the Astros.
With a payroll of around $27 million, Houston (8-24) is off to the worst start in team history but just 3 1/2 games behind the Angels. The Astros were outscored 26-2 in their final two games against Detroit over the weekend and didn't record a hit until the seventh inning in the series finale Sunday. They finished with four singles in a 9-0 defeat, their season high-tying sixth in a row.
Houston has gone 4-18 in its last 22, a stretch that started when Los Angeles ended its three-game win streak with a 5-4 victory April 13. The Astros are 4-12 at home.
"We've got to figure out how we're going to change it, and it starts man to man on the roster and trying to improve and come out with a different type of fight," reliever Wesley Wright told the team's website. "We have to start it somewhere, and hopefully it starts Tuesday."
Jordan Lyles (0-0, 3.60) will make his second start since being called up from the minors. He gave up two runs, six hits and one walk in five innings of a 7-3 loss to Detroit on Thursday.
Lyles has never faced the Angels, but Hamilton is 4 for 7 with a home run against the right-hander.
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