After a solid start to the season, C.J. Wilson has failed to get into a rhythm in his recent outings - and Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia seems to know why.
Wilson looks to snap out of his funk Friday night against the Houston Astros as the Angels go for their first eight-game home winning streak in nearly nine years.
The left-hander went 6-3 with a 3.00 ERA through his first 10 starts, but he's just 3-3 with a 4.93 ERA in eight outings since.
Wilson (8-6, 3.90 ERA) especially has struggled in his last two, giving up six runs in five innings of an 8-6 win over Minnesota on June 24 before allowing four runs and walking four in 3 2-3 innings of Los Angeles' 5-4 loss to Kansas City on Sunday.
Wilson has failed to pitch more than five innings in half of his last six starts.
"He was so good for us for so long early," Scioscia said. "He's simply not commanding counts. C.J. has the knack to be able to make that one pitch and get out of situations, but not when you are always pitching behind."
Wilson had a disastrous outing the last time he faced the Astros on June 3, giving up five runs and six hits while walking five over 2 2-3 innings of a 7-2 loss in one of the shortest starts of his career.
He went 5-2 with a 2.45 ERA in his first nine starts against Houston, including allowing one run and striking out seven through eight innings of a 9-1 win April 7.
Wilson will look to bounce back and help the Angels (48-36) match their longest home winning streak since September 2005 after a 5-2 win over the Astros on Thursday.
Mike Trout, Howie Kendrick and David Freese had two hits apiece. Freese had a two-run double in a four-run fourth inning and is now hitting .340 over his last 14 games - raising his average from .218 to .245.
"He hasn't gotten off to a good start, and we're at the halfway point," Scioscia said of Freese. "Hopefully he's finding a comfort level. I think the last 30 or so at-bats he's been driving the ball a little bit better."
Los Angeles has won 10 of 13 overall and will look to deal Houston (31-56) a fifth straight defeat, but it'll have to again contend with the hot-hitting Jose Altuve.
Altuve is batting .471 over his last 18 contests after going 3 for 5 on Thursday, increasing his AL-leading average to .347.
"He's definitely a phenomenal hitter and he's tough to get out, so you have to mess up his timing and make good pitches," Angels starter Matt Shoemaker said.
The Astros will hand the ball to Dallas Keuchel as they look to end their skid.
Keuchel (8-5, 2.78) was scratched Saturday against Detroit due to left wrist inflammation, but he appears to be ready for this outing. His last appearance came June 22 when he allowed five runs - four earned - over eight innings of a 5-2 loss to Tampa Bay.
"Barring any setback he should be ready to go," manager Bo Porter told MLB's official website. "Hopefully we don't have any issues and we're ready to plug him back in the rotation."
The left-hander had eight strikeouts and was one out away from blanking the Angels in his last start against them May 19, but was charged with two runs after he exited.
Keuchel is 3-1 with a 5.40 ERA in five starts against Los Angeles. He gave up four runs in five innings of a 5-1 loss April 5.
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