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Angels’ Nick Tropeano needs to make every pitch, and count, count against Astros

Angels pitcher Nick Tropeano throws in a game against the Mariners last week.

Angels pitcher Nick Tropeano throws in a game against the Mariners last week.

(Ted S. Warren / Associated Press)
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If Nick Tropeano is to subdue the Houston Astros in the hitter’s haven that is Minute Maid Park on Wednesday, the Angels right-hander will have to keep his emotions out of it.

No trying to show the team that traded him what it’s missing. No getting wrapped up in the novelty of facing friends and former teammates.

“Obviously, it’s exciting to pitch against my old team, but I’m going to take it like every other start,” said Tropeano, who was acquired with catcher Carlos Perez for catcher Hank Conger last November. “It’s a playoff race. Every game counts.”

Tropeano made one of his four starts for Houston last season at home, but he knows enough about the park’s cozy dimensions — and an Astros lineup that ranks second in baseball with 209 homers — to know how difficult it is to pitch here.

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“You have to execute pitches, keep the ball down, try to get ground outs early in counts,” Tropeano said. “I don’t think you can let it affect your game. You have to attack hitters.”

Tropeano, 25, has mixed results in five starts this season, going 2-2 with a 5.06 earned-run average.

“Nick at times has shown his stuff plays in the big leagues, when he can get it into good spots and control counts — he’s got a lively arm,” Manager Mike Scioscia said. “His problem has been consistency and commanding counts. He’s had to get back into a lot of counts, and that’s a tough way to go.”

Rotation shuffle

Matt Shoemaker will be pushed back after coming out of Sunday’s 3 2/3-inning, six-hit, four-run start in Minnesota “a little bit stiff,” Scioscia said. It was the right-hander’s first game back from a forearm strain that sidelined him for 2 1/2 weeks.

Garrett Richards, Andrew Heaney and Jered Weaver will start this weekend against Seattle, aligning Richards to start either a 163rd game to get into the playoffs on Oct. 5 or a wild-card game on Oct. 6.

Short hops

Joe Smith, who suffered a left-ankle sprain Saturday, was able to walk without crutches Tuesday, which left the setup man feeling more confident about pitching again this season. . . . The double-vision that has sidelined Johnny Giavotella since Aug. 21 cleared up enough for him to take 20 swings against live pitching in Arizona on Tuesday. Scioscia said the second baseman could be activated this weekend.

mike.digiovanna@latimes.com


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