The Angels' pitchers are walking a lot of hitters early in the season, and the Astros' hitters are gladly taking them.
Only three walks were issued between the Angels and Astros on Saturday night, but that may have been an outlier. Heading in, the Astros had drawn 17 walks as a team, a mark that was tied for fourth in the American League and very promising for a roster that, on average, is the youngest in the Major Leagues.
"The at-bats have been good, but [Friday] night we expanded the zone," Astros skipper Bo Porter said, even though his team drew a season-high seven walks that night. "We stressed to these guys understanding the strike zone, managing your at-bats. When you do that, you put yourself in the best position to get a pitch you can handle and then put a good swing on it. I feel like our at-bats have been pretty good. We've got guys who are learning how to manage the strike zone. I believe all these guys have taken a step forward."
Tyler Skaggs issued only one walk in eight innings in Saturday's 5-1 win, and still the Angels ranked third in the Majors in base on balls issued with 22. Part of that is to be expected, with a rotation that features two guys with historically high walk rates (C.J. Wilson and Hector Santiago) and one guy who's 22 years old (Skaggs).
But Angels manager Mike Scioscia needs to see some improvement.
"It's an eye-opener for us to see our guys struggle that much with command," Scioscia said. "In Spring Training, if you're making pitches in Arizona, you should be able to make them here a week later, and we're not seeing that with some of our guys. Some guys are trying to get feet on ground, some guys are a little out of whack. There's been a lot of walks from our starters. Hopefully, we'll be able to adjust that as we move on."
Angels: Jered Weaver looking to bounce back
Weaver, who will oppose Astros right-hander Scott Feldman, had a subpar outing on Opening Day, giving up four runs (three earned) on six hits while walking three and striking out six. Then he saw the bullpen give up six ninth-inning runs.
"A couple balls came out flat," Weaver said. "Other than that, I felt like I was in control pretty much the whole game until a couple slip-ups there late. But the final score was 10-3, so I don't think it really matters."
Astros: Feldman seeks another strong outing
Feldman became the second pitcher in history to make Opening Day starts for the Astros and Rangers on Tuesday, when he pitched 6 2/3 shutout innings against the Yankees, giving up two hits, walking two and striking out three.
"Total team effort," Feldman said. "We came out from the get-go and put those runs on the board. [Yankees starter] CC [Sabathia] is a great pitcher, but we were able to get him a little bit early tonight, and that made my job easier."
• The Angels have won seven of their last eight games at Minute Maid Park, and have limited the Astros to 10 runs in those seven victories.
• Angels first baseman Albert Pujols remains one RBI away from 1,500 for his career. When he gets it, he'll join Alex Rodriguez as the only active players to reach the milestone.
• Astros second baseman Jose Altuve has hit in three straight games and walked in four straight games, tying his career high.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.