Major League Baseball

Cards’ Hudson rides momentum into matchup with Angels

mlb2ANGELS (38-39) AT CARDINALS (39-36)
2:15 p.m. ET; FS-M, FS-W, MLB.TV

The St. Louis Cardinals’ Dakota Hudson and the Los Angeles Angels’ Felix Pena will have a plenty in common when they go head-to-head in the second game of the three-game series on Saturday afternoon.

The Cardinals won the past six games that Hudson started, and the visiting Angels won the past five games when Pena pitched.

Both right-handers, who began their major league careers as relievers, are 3-0 during the winning streaks.

Hudson (5-3, 3.55 ERA) has pitched at least six innings in his past seven starts without allowing more than three runs in any of those appearances.

After his last outing on Sunday, a 4-3 win at the New York Mets($12) in which he did not receive a decision, Hudson told reporters that he doesn’t try for as many swing-and-misses as he did in the past.

“You can’t really get a swing-and-miss and have it mean anything until it’s 0-2,” said Hudson, who has never faced the Angels. “So I’m trying to get the first two strikes as fast as I can, and if I need a strikeout, than that’s what I’m going to do, but I’m trying to make quality pitches every time out there.”

Pena (5-1, 4.70 ERA) has taken on a variety of roles for the Angels this season, from starter to short reliever to the long reliever that followed the opener in each of his past three appearances.

Pena came on in the second inning of his last outing on Monday in the opener of a four-game series at the Toronto Blue Jays and blanked them through his first five innings as the Angels built a 10-1 lead.

After giving up two-run homers in the seventh and eighth innings, Pena was removed, having allowed four runs and six hits in six innings of a 10-5 victory.

The Angels went on to win the first three games in Toronto before losing the series finale on Thursday.

In three career appearances (no starts) against the Cardinals, Pena is 0-0 with a 4.91 ERA.

Los Angeles lost again on Friday night 5-1 in the series opener in St. Louis, a game marked by the long-awaited return of Albert Pujols. The slugger spent 11 seasons with the Cardinals but had not played in St. Louis since signing with the Angels following the 2011 season.

The St. Louis fans gave Pujols a standing ovation at the start of each of his three plate appearances, and again when he was removed for a pinch runner in the seventh inning.

Angels manager Brad Ausmus was not surprised by the fan reaction to the three-time NL Most Valuable Player.

“I’m sure it will happen again (Saturday),” Ausmus said. “Having played here many times and seen how the Cardinals fans react, even to visiting players, I fully expected that to happen.”

On the infield single by Pujols in the seventh inning, his time down the first base line was his fastest recorded since the 2015 season.

“I think he’s feeling better, for sure, this year than he was a year ago,” Ausmus said.

Hudson is a different pitcher than he was a year ago as well, but one element that remains is his ability to bounce back from hitter to hitter.

“It’s the big leagues,” he said. “They’re some of the best hitters in the world, so they’re going to get hits. It’s just about being consistent and, if I keep attacking, if I keep it to a single, maybe the next ground ball is a double play. With our defense, I trust them. They cover a lot of ground out there, so I’m just trying to get them to put it in play and then work for some quick outs.”

–Field Level Media

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