Zack Greinke will start on the mound Saturday for the Houston Astros in their game against the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim, Calif., hoping he'll have a little more in the gas tank than he did in his first start of the season last Sunday against the Seattle Mariners.
Greinke, who got a no-decision, gave up three runs on four hits and two walks while making 58 pitches in 3 1/3 innings of a 7-6 loss.
"Not too happy with anything," Greinke told reporters after the game. "Command wasn't great, stuff wasn't great, endurance wasn't even good at all."
His lack of endurance likely was the root of his problems. He compared the start to a start early in spring training. His average fastball was clocked at 87.7 mph, down from 89.9 last season.
While Greinke said he expects to feel a little better Saturday against the Angels, he said he'll need at least a few more starts before his endurance is where he wants it to be.
Greinke will not have to face either Mike Trout or Andrelton Simmons, who will be out of the lineup for different reasons. Trout will miss his third consecutive game while on paternity leave, his wife expected to deliver the couple's first child on Monday.
Simmons has been out since Monday with a sprained left ankle and is not eligible to come off the injured list until next Friday (Aug. 7).
Greinke, though, likely will face Albert Pujols, who got a day off to rest on Friday and should return to the lineup Saturday. Pujols has hit Greinke well in his career, batting .368 (14-for-38) with six doubles and a home run.
Greinke also will have to face the Angels' hottest hitter so far this season in David Fletcher. Fletcher is one of Angels manager Joe Maddon's favorites, with an ability to play multiple positions and a feel for the game that can't be taught.
Fletcher began the season at third base while regular third baseman Anthony Rendon was injured. Now, Fletcher is playing shortstop in Simmons' place.
Fletcher went 2-for-3 Friday against the Astros and is hitting .400 with a team-leading 12 hits.
"I think with the couple of years of experience now in the big leagues, I think I'm in the best place I've been in in my career," Fletcher said. "Just seeing all the pitchers around the league another time and those two years of experience and figuring out myself a little bit better and developing, I do feel I'm in the best spot of my career."
Greinke is 6-5 with a 4.03 ERA in 15 career games (14 starts) vs. the Angels.
Griffin Canning will start for the Angels, and like Greinke, is looking to improve on his initial start of the season. Last Monday against the Oakland A's, Canning got the loss after allowing three runs on four hits and two walks in 4 2/3 innings. Canning, though, did have seven strikeouts.
Canning has made only one career start against the Astros, and it was a disaster. On July 15 of last season, he lasted just 1 1/3 innings and gave up three runs on two hits and six walks.
--Field Level Media