The Astros weren't supposed to be the surging squad heading into this weekend's four-game set against the Angels, but they appear to be the American League West's hottest club entering Sunday's game in Anaheim.
"We've got a resilient group," said Houston manager Bo Porter. "These guys enjoy coming to the ballpark, they enjoy playing together each and every day. That's why we talk about the process. They come here with the thought process of, 'We are going to play our best baseball today.'"
With Saturday's 2-0 victory, the Astros have won five of their last six games and have effectively halted the Angels' winning run, which had included 10 wins in 12 games before this series.
Tasked with slowing the Astros' ascent is lefty C.J. Wilson, who will make his third start of the season vs. Houston. He's 1-1 with a 2.19 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings against the Astros this year.
More than pitching, though, Angels manager Mike Scioscia is concerned about his team's depth in the middle of 16 straight playing days, as his team is carrying only 12 position players on its roster.
"Our bench isn't quite as deep as it's been in recent years," Scioscia said. "We have some guys that are role players, but we're really not platooning as much as we have at some points. I think the guys that we're counting on are the guys that are out there every day. That core group is important to us, so they've been out there a lot."
Howie Kendrick, Mark Trumbo and Mike Trout have started every game. Albert Pujols has started all but two, and Josh Hamilton has started all but four.
Meanwhile, the Astros look deeper than they have all season. Five players have combined to homer 11 times in the last eight games, and Houston starting pitchers have recorded quality starts in four of their last five outings.
Righty Jordan Lyles will try to continue that streak when he takes the hill on Sunday. Lyles tossed seven innings of one-run ball against the Rockies in his previous outing but didn't get the decision, as Houston lost, 2-1.
Lyles is 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA in his last three outings since being rocked for eight runs by Texas on May 12.
He got the win in his most recent start against the Angels, on May 7, going five innings while giving up three runs and striking out six.
"I wouldn't say I learned anything [from facing them already]," Lyles said. "It just comes down to throwing quality strikes. Any starting pitcher going into their outing will just focus on trying to throw strikes, get outs, not throw too many pitches each inning and not let the bullpen throw too many innings."
Angels: Bourjos expected to shore up thin outfield soon
Center fielder Peter Bourjos will begin a rehab assignment on Monday as he recovers from a strained left hamstring, an injury he sustained on April 30. He will start his Minor League stint with Class A Inland Empire and is expected to play four to five games.
His eventual return would shore up an outfield that has been perilously thin lately. Trout, Trumbo, Hamilton and J.B. Shuck are the only four outfielders on the current roster.
"Right now, as far as outfielders go on our roster, we're pretty thin," Scioscia said. "Depth is important. We've seen some games where our depth is not where it needs to be, and it's come back to hurt us."
Astros: Castro adding pop to the lineup
Player of the Week honors have been rare for the Astros in recent seasons, but catcher Jason Castro is following his award-winning week with another impressive run at the dish.
The reigning American League Player of the Week popped a solo home run in Friday night's win and roped a base hit in Saturday's victory.
He is now hitting .429 in his last 12 games, with four home runs, seven RBIs and 10 runs. Porter has even platooned him some at designated hitter to keep his bat in the lineup when he wants to give him a rest from catching duties.
"I think Jason's doing a great job," Porter said. "The biggest thing for him was health. He's healthy now, and you're starting to see what we all knew he was capable of doing. Each and every day, you're pretty comfortable when you know he's in the lineup."
• The Astros and Angels are meeting for the ninth time this season, with Houston winning five of the first eight matchups.
• The Astros have won four in a row, their longest winning streak this season.
Chris Abshire is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.