After a rough April in which they posted a 9-17 record, the Angels turned their season around with a successful 16-13 record in May.
Following Friday's 6-3 loss in the opener vs. the Astros, the Angels will try to keep up that pace in June, squaring off against Houston in the second of a four-game set on Saturday at Angel Stadium.
Seeing improvements on both sides of the ball, Angels manager Mike Scioscia has been pleased with his team's recent performance.
"I think in some really important areas we jumped up. The offensive side was a little hit or miss, but the last 10 days we've been a little bit better on the offensive side, which is obviously a big part of our club," Scioscia said. "I think we drove the ball well. But the biggest thing is the way our starting rotation is starting to perform. And our bullpen is starting to settle in. Those are critical things we've talked about from the first day of Spring Training.
"Our defense, we were a little rough early and missing some plays. We have a really strong defensive club, and that hasn't shown up as much as I think it will. We're starting to play much better baseball on the defensive end."
Jerome Williams, who will take the hill Saturday, has been a big reason for that turnaround. The right-hander went 3-1 in May with a 3.19 ERA. Posting a quality start in each of his last four outings, Williams picked up his second straight win on Sunday, allowing two runs on seven hits in six innings vs. the Royals.
Meanwhile, Bud Norris will be on the mound for the Astros, ready to help his team continue on its current hot streak.
Since May 15, the Astros have gone 8-7, with 10 of their 15 contests determined by two or fewer runs. Houston starters have also posted a 3.80 ERA in that span.
Norris (4-4, 3.71 ERA) took a tough no-decision in his last start against the Rockies, allowing just two runs over seven innings on Monday. It marked the fourth quality start the right-hander tossed in May.
"If you come to the park and your thought process is, 'I want to take care of everything that I have control over' -- both teams that show up every night, they both want to win -- the Angels' desire to win is the same as our desire to win," said Astros manager Bo Porter. "But if you only focus on your desire to win, then there's a huge chunk in the middle that's going to have a determining factor that you've now taken your focus off of."
Astros: Gonzalez placed on DL; Fields activated
Right-hander Edgar Gonzalez was placed on the 15-day disabled list before Friday's series opener against the Angels, and righty Josh Fields was activated to fill the roster spot.
Gonzalez, who has been dealing with shoulder soreness and was not available to pitch Thursday, was placed on the DL with a right shoulder sprain.
"It feels a little tight, sore," Gonzalez said. "They say I have a little inflammation."
Gonzalez said his shoulder only hurts when throwing, and that when he is idle, it is pain-free.
Angels: Madson plays catch for second straight day
Reliever Ryan Madson played catch in the outfield at Angel Stadium on Friday afternoon for the second straight day.
Madson said he felt better following the session than he did on Thursday, the first time he had thrown since experiencing inflammation in his right elbow following a Minor League rehab appearance on May 13.
"I'm happy, I'm having a great day," Madson said before Friday's game against the Astros. "It was as good as it could be."
While Scioscia is pleased with Madson's progress, he said the team has no timetable for his next rehab appearance.
• The Angels hit just 24 home runs in April, and 37 in May. They also scored 111 runs in April, and 136 in May.
• Astros shortstop Marwin Gonzalez was not in Friday's lineup against the Angels, as he continues to deal with a slight strain of his right hamstring. Porter did not appear concerned and expected Gonzalez back soon.