Astros warming up for playoffs vs. Angels

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The Houston Astros announced that shortstop Carlos Correa not only will miss Friday’s game against the Los Angeles Angels, he’ll also miss the games through the weekend because of a sore back.

While the club is hoping that Correa will be able to play once the Astros begin the playoffs on Oct. 4, they have plenty of other offensive threats they can rely on if Correa is not able to play.

Outfielder George Springer, who likely will return to the lineup Friday after taking off most of Thursday (he entered the game in the eighth inning) to rest, is one such threat.

Springer has 38 home runs and 94 RBIs, and he’s done it in just 119 games, having dealt with a variety of injuries this season. The most serious was a strained hamstring that cost him 27 games in June and July. Springer hit three homers against the Angels on Sunday.

“He can change the game from the first swing of the game,” Astros pitcher Justin Verlander said. “I know I didn’t like facing him when he was leading off. Obviously, he was the World Series MVP for a reason, and when it comes down to it, we have a lot of guys who are pretty special. I don’t know if there’s anybody else in the planet you’d like to have in a big situation than George.”

Right-hander Jose Urquidy, 1-1 with a 4.63 ERA in eight games (six starts), will make the start for Houston. He has faced the Angels twice this season, including a start on July 7, when he gave up five runs and eight hits in 2 1/3 innings. In a relief appearance on Sept. 21, he gave up one run and four hits in three innings.

Patrick Sandoval, who is 0-3 with a 5.25 ERA in nine games (eight starts), will start for Los Angeles. Sandoval has faced Houston once this season, and it came in his last start Sept. 21. In three innings, he gave up three runs on two walks and two hits, including a home run to Yordan Alvarez.

Though several of the Angels’ front-line players — Mike Trout, Justin Upton and Shohei Ohtani — are finished for the season, 39-year-old Albert Pujols, who played first base on Thursday, is expected in Friday’s lineup as well, likely as the designated hitter.

Pujols has played in 128 games, has 23 homers, 22 doubles and 93 RBIs, adding to his Hall of Fame career numbers.

“He’s been our most consistent hitter the last 40-something games,” Angels manager Brad Ausmus said. “He’s had a really nice season, quite frankly. Not only does he drive in runs, he’s a very smart hitter.

“Knock on wood, he’s stayed healthy. The knees have been good. He gets in the weight room. He’s really diligent about the maintenance work for his legs. His whole body, but his legs in particular. He’s had some rest days for the knees to get a break. But the credit is all his. It’s really been the maintenance and the performance.”

–Field Level Media

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