ANAHEIM -- The Angels are in need of a spark, after being dominated by the Mariners to start a season 0-3 for the first time in 22 years, and they're hoping the Astros can be the team to get them going again.
"We're excited to get to Houston," third baseman David Freese said of an Astros team that has started its season with back-to-back wins against the Yankees. "You hear about those guys, they're fired up down there. They've got some energy, and we have to bring the same energy."
The Angels must be weary of the Astros, even though they've lost at least 100 games the past three years and are still waiting for their top-ranked farm system to blossom.
Last year, in their first season in the American League West, the Astros were one of the teams that crippled the Angels early on.
From May 7-9, the Angels dropped two of three at Minute Maid Park. Three weeks later, the Astros dealt them a major blow. The Angels had won 10 of their previous 12 and were coming off winning back-to-back games against the Dodgers, when the Astros came to town for a four-game series -- and took all four contests, dropping the Angels eight games below .500 and 11 games out of first place.
They figured out Houston after that, winning five of their last six games at Minute Maid Park and allowing a combined eight runs in those five victories, but the postseason was an afterthought by that point.
Now, the Angels need to figure themselves out.
In their three-game series against the Mariners, the bullpen yielded 12 runs in 10 innings, the offense went a combined 1-for-18 with runners in scoring position while striking out 32 times overall, and the Angels were outscored 26-8.
"We've been around long enough to know what it takes," Freese said. "We just have to bring energy into Houston and just continue what we're doing and play hard. This is going to be a good team."
Astros: Harrell dominated Angels last year
Lucas Harrell, who takes the ball for the Astros in the series opener, had his way with the Angels last season. The 28-year-old right-hander posted a 1.53 ERA in three starts, giving up four runs (three earned) despite walking nine batters in 17 2/3 innings.
This spring, though, Harrell had a 7.80 ERA in 15 Grapefruit League innings.
"It's been a long wait from last year to this year, and I felt like I've done a lot of work and tried to prepare myself the best to go out there and perform well and try to help the team win some ballgames," Harrell said. "I'll just try to follow suit with [Scott] Feldman and [Jarred] Cosart, and hopefully we'll keep it going."
Feldman threw 6 2/3 scoreless innings and Cosart five scoreless in wins over the Yankees on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Angels: Richards finally gets his shot
After shuffling back and forth between the Minors and the big leagues, and between the rotation and the bullpen, Garrett Richards has finally solidified his role as a Major League starter. The 25-year-old right-hander proved himself down the stretch last season, posting a 3.47 ERA in 13 starts after taking over for Joe Blanton.
"It's exciting," Richards said of not having to worry about his role. "When I got drafted, this was where I wanted to be, this is what I've been working towards. I'm just ready to work. I gained a lot of confidence last year and I learned a lot of things, getting that first full season under my belt."
• Albert Pujols is one RBI from notching 1,500 for his career. The only other active player with that many is suspended Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez. Only 51 other players have ever reached that mark.
• Erick Aybar is one hit shy of 900 for his career. Only two other shortstops have eclipsed that mark in Angels history -- current third-base coach Gary DiSarcina (966) and the late Jim Fregosi (1,408).
• Astros catcher Jason Castro is expected to be out of the lineup Friday after suffering a contusion to his right foot/ankle when he was hit by a pitch in the third inning on Thursday. Carlos Corporan is expected to make his first start of the season.
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.