Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel returns to action Friday against the Angels in Anaheim after missing a turn in the rotation because of inflammation in his left wrist. Keuchel is looking to snap a personal two-game losing streak after he went 0-2 with a 5.54 ERA in his last two starts, though he did throw a complete game in a losing effort June 22 in Tampa Bay his last time out.
"The couple of days of rest and treatment did well. I'm going to try to go as long as possible tomorrow," he said.
Keuchel (8-5, 2.78 ERA) called the wrist inflammation "nervewracking." The 26-year-old Oklahoma native intimated he wants to be a pitcher that can throw 200 innings a season. He won't have any restrictions when he faces the Angels, who have won seven of their last 10.
"Ultimately, I couldn't really pitch and that really bothered me… I never had anything like that happen before" Keuchel said. "I came to the field and the training staff reassured me everything was going to be OK with rest and treatment for a couple of days, and the fluid left and the swelling went down. I'm good to go like it's a normal start."
Keuchel was sleeping in a soft cast, but he's not doing that anymore.
He had one of his best games of the season on May 19 in Anaheim. He was one strike away from a second consecutive shutout before Mike Trout beat out an infield hit. Keuchel wound up going 8 2/3 innings and allowing two runs, five hits and a walk and still picked up the win.
"This team [Angels] is playing well right now and it's going to be a good matchup between what I've been doing and what they're doing," he said. "It's the Fourth of July, there's going to be a lot of people there, and I'm looking forward to it."
The Angels will counter with struggling southpaw C.J. Wilson (8-6, 3.90 ERA). Wilson had a really tough June, posting a 5.97 ERA in six starts. His last two outings, he's given up 10 runs in 8 2/3 innings.
"Every game is its own little adjustment, and I think that's why I typically recover after a bad game and have a good game," Wilson said. "If you look at some of the games where I have a short outing or something, I bounce back the next time and throw seven, eight, nine innings. There's a lot of adjustments out there."
Angels: Hold top home record
The Angels are 13-1 over their last 14 home games, but 6-12 in their last 18 road games. At 27-14, they own the best home winning percentage in the Major Leagues.
They're just 3 1/2 games behind the A's for first place in the AL West, and currently hold the top AL Wild Card spot.
"Obviously we've played very well in the first half, and we've put ourselves in a position to be relevant in the second half," said general manager Jerry Dipoto. "There are a lot of things about the way the season has gone that are encouraging."
"We've been very consistent on the offensive side, I think we've played pretty good defense for most of the year. That's been encouraging," Dipoto added. "The starting pitching, with the exception of a couple of rough ones, has been very good. And the bullpen, I think we're in the process of continuing to tinker."
Astros: Altuve keeps on hitting
Astros second baseman Jose Altuve had his Major League-leading 37th multihit game Thursday when he singled and doubled in his first two at-bats against the Angels. He finished 3-for-5 with a run scored and pushed his season hit total to 121. That's easily the most in the Major Leagues and puts him in position to set the Astros' record for hits before the All-Star Break. In 1973, former Astro Bob Watson became the organization's leader in that category by collecting 123 hits before the Midsummer Classic.
Altuve, the 5-foot-6 dynamo who appears headed for his second All-Star Game in three years, draws attention everywhere he goes because of his size and his stats. And his teammates are as flabbergasted by his performance as much as the fans.
"He's unbelievable," said rookie outfielder George Springer. "The guy is unreal. I'm convinced he plugs himself into his outlet at night and changes his battery. I don't know how he does it."
• Mike Trout is one home run shy of becoming the 13th player in Major League history with 20-plus homers before the All-Star break in his age-22 season or younger.
Adam Lewis is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.