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The numbers behind Angels' hot July, Astros' tepid last 2 months

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Matt Marton/USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Angels and the Houston Astros, who are separated by percentage points atop the American League West, play the second game in their three-game series Wednesday.

We take a look at the key statistics heading into Wednesday night’s game (8 ET, ESPN/WatchESPN).

The Angels (55-44) and Astros (56-45) are close in scoring (the Angels average 4.3 runs a game, the Astros 4.4) and pitching (3.58 ERA for Angels, 3.53 for Astros).

Even though the Angels lost the series opener Tuesday, they are having another torrid July, as the chart indicates.

The Angels’ 4 through 9 hitters have been at or near the bottom of the majors in production this season. They rank no better than 19th in the majors in batting average, on-base percentage, OPS and home runs from those spots in the order.

Mike Trout, who missed Tuesday’s game, and Albert Pujols have combined to carry the Angels’ offense. They have accounted for more than half of the team’s home runs.

Pujols recorded his 100th career stolen base Sunday, making him the fourth player in major league history with a .300 batting average, 500 home runs and 100 steals. The others are Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth and Willie Mays.

Pujols is one home run shy of reaching the 30-homer mark for the 13th season, matching Ruth and Mike Schmidt. Only Aaron (15 seasons), Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds (14 seasons each) have more.

Pitching notes

Garrett Richards, the Angels’ scheduled starter, has a 4.73 ERA in nine road starts, compared with a 2.03 ERA in nine home starts. Opponents are batting .286 against Richards in his road appearances and .175 in his home appearances.

Lance McCullers, scheduled to pitch for the Astros, has the sixth-best ERA among American League starters at 2.60 (minimum 12 starts).

McCullers relies on his curveball more than any other American League starter (now that the Rangers’ Wandy Rodriguez is in the bullpen), throwing it 34 percent of the time.

Among starters who have made a minimum of 10 starts, McCullers ranks 10th in the American League in miss percentage (25 percent) and miss percentage on his curveballs (37 percent).

Astros’ offense

By many measure, Astros shortstop Carlos Correa has been the best offensive shortstop in baseball since his June 8 debut. Correa’s 2.5 wins above replacement is second only to that of Xander Bogaerts (3.1) among AL shortstops. Bogaerts has played in 55 more games.

The Astros rank fourth in baseball in the percentage of their runs that come via the home run. Houston gets 45 percent of its runs via homers; the Dodgers lead the major leagues at 47 percent.

The Astros began the season hot, going 31-20 in April and May. They are .500 in June and July (25-25) despite hitting more home runs (70 compared with 68 in April and May) and having a better batting average (.251 compared with .233 in the first two months).