HOUSTON -- Angels catcher Chris Iannetta cites a couple of reasons why the Angels' pitching staff has had such success over the last 20 games, namely the continued emergence of the club's newcomers.
During the club's 15-5 run entering Friday's opener against Houston, the Angels' staff compiled an American League-leading 2.98 ERA. Since Aug. 23, the bullpen has logged a 1.92 ERA, which also leads the league.
"We picked up some good guys over the course of the season," Iannetta said. "[Dane] De La Rosa has been good for us. It's been a maturation process throughout the year. He keeps getting better. He's become more reliable for us. [Juan] Gutierrez, that was a great addition for us. He's been good at eating innings.
"Some of the young guys that have come up throughout the course of the year have done well, but as the year goes on and they've gotten more experience, they've been that much better for us."
Iannetta has been the rock behind the plate throughout that time.
"I'm back there to do whatever they need me to do, put my glove where they need it to be. Be there to do the thinking for them," he said. "Whatever I could possibly contribute I'm willing to do that for them."
Kendrick records game's first hit, run in return to lineup
HOUSTON -- Howie Kendrick returned to the Angels' lineup Friday against the Astros and went 2-for-5, recording a hit in his first at-bat and scoring the game's first run. The second baseman was activated from the disabled list on Tuesday after missing 33 games with a hyperextended left knee. He last played on Aug. 5 against Texas before Friday night's 9-7 loss.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia said before the game he planned to ease Kendrick back into action, and he lifted the second baseman in the bottom of the eighth, putting Grant Green in the field.
"Sometimes guys are out for a while, they come back and look like they never missed a beat," Scioscia said. "Sometimes guys need time. I'm sure there are going to be some rough patches that I'll have to smooth out, but he's ready to go. He feels good."
At the time of his injury, Kendrick's 126 hits ranked second among Major League second basemen.
Shuck sits in opener despite success against lefties
HOUSTON -- J.B. Shuck's absence in the lineup against lefties isn't because he hasn't been hitting them. The problem is, he isn't the only one who has been having success against southpaws.
Shuck, who enters Friday's game against Astros southpaw Dallas Keuchel hitting .309 against lefties, waits his turn.
"There's two things," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "First, Collin Cowgill got some big hits against lefties when he got the chance. Kole Calhoun is a guy that's telling us, 'You're not taking me out of the lineup.' He's just killing the ball. So something's got to give, and right now, J.B.'s had to share some at-bats."
Shuck won't have to wait long, though.
"We'll get him back in there," said Scioscia, who added he plans to play Shuck on Saturday against Astros lefty Brett Oberholtzer.
Glenn Sattell is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.