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The San Francisco Giants will be riding the momentum of a series win over the Houston Astros as well as some good news regarding the health of their pitching staff when they open a three-game set against the visiting Los Angeles Angels on Friday night.

The Giants have hung around the .500 mark this season despite two of their projected starters -- Alex Cobb and Robbie Ray -- having yet to pitch because of injuries. Also, Blake Snell has made two trips to the injured list after a late start while working his way into shape.

San Francisco manager Bob Melvin has explored six options as fourth and fifth starters, settling on right-hander Keaton Winn in the No. 4 slot despite a 3-7 record and 6.94 ERA. The No. 5 spot remains open, leading to bullpen days, such as the one Melvin is expected to employ in the series opener against the Angels.

Spencer Howard (0-0, 2.03 ERA), Friday's likely starter for the Giants, got his first start of the season last Saturday in Texas. The right-hander responded with 4 2/3 innings of one-run ball, leading a parade of five relievers in a five-hit effort in San Francisco's 3-1 victory.

Howard has started two games against the Angels in his career, going 1-1 with a 3.68 ERA.

Melvin hopes the bullpen games will be ancient history by the end of the month.

Snell (strained left groin) is the closest to returning; he could be back in two weeks. Cobb (elbow/shoulder soreness) could be a week away from starting an injury-rehab stint in the minors. And Ray (second Tommy John surgery) is being pointed to a return shortly after the All-Star break.

Melvin is most excited about the progress of Ray, who last week faced 10 minor-leaguers over two stints in the Arizona Complex League and struck out eight.

"He's on his way now," Melvin said of the 2021 American League Cy Young Award winner. "Typically these things hit a bump along the way. It hasn't yet -- knock on wood."

Someone familiar with starting games for the Giants is expected to take the mound for the Angels in the series opener. Left-hander Tyler Anderson (5-6, 2.63 ERA) went 4-3 with a 4.37 ERA in 13 games (11 starts) for the Giants in 2020.

He's returned to Oracle Park just once since then, throwing five innings in a 9-5 win for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2022. It was one of 11 career starts he's made against the Giants, during which he's gone 3-3 with a 4.29 ERA.

While the Giants enjoyed Thursday off after beating Houston 5-3 in the finale of a three-game series Wednesday, the Angels were in Arizona completing a three-game series with an 11-1 loss. They have dropped four of their last six games, a stretch in which they've allowed six or more runs five times.

The Angels will take the field once again without star outfielder Mike Trout, who underwent surgery on torn meniscus in his left knee on May 3.

Catcher Logan O'Hoppe returned to the lineup in the series finale against the Diamondbacks after experiencing what he labeled "by far" the most painful injury of his career Tuesday. He took a direct hit below the belt with a foul ball.

O'Hoppe was pulled from the game immediately, then sat out Wednesday's 8-3 Los Angeles win. He scored the Angels' only run Thursday following a double.

"I was dizzy," O'Hoppe described afterward. "That was tough."

--Field Level Media

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