After taking two out of three against the first place Chicago White Sox, the Astros came home with momentum that they need in six games against the second place Texas Rangers and the first place Baltimore Orioles.
They started the home stand on a sour note as they fell to the Rangers 2-1 behind a strong pitching performance by the veteran right-hander Colby Lewis. Lewis took advantage of the Astros lack of patience at the plate, throwing seven shutout innings, giving up four hits and walking no one while striking out six.
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The two issues the Astros had offensively were not new. One was the bottom of the lineup. They went a combined 1-12 with four strikeouts from the sixth place batter on. The other was offensive productivity with runners in scoring position, recording only one hit in five attempts.
The Astros did give the new Rangers closer, Sam Dyson, a scare in the ninth as Jose Altuve led off the inning with a double and was eventually brought in by Colby Rasmus for the only Astros score of the game.
On the mound, the Astros pitched very well as a whole. Lance McCullers was impressive in his second start of the year. In his six innings of work, McCullers gave up only two earned runs on five hits and struck out seven. From the seventh inning on, Michael Feliz was electric in relief. In his three innings of work, Feliz didn’t let any base runners on and struck out six.
The Astros look today to get their home record back up to .500 and find a way to get back into the American League West hunt, as they are currently eight games back of the first place Seattle Mariners.
Ramos hasn’t had much starting experience in the major leagues. He has been known more as a lefty specialist out of the bullpen. In his 65 games pitched for the Los Angeles Angels last season, Ramos went 2-1 with a 2.75 ERA with a career high five holds.
However, he has started 12 games in his career including one for the Texas Rangers this season. In that one start, he pitched six innings, giving up three earned runs on nine hits including two home runs. He also walked two and struck out five.
Ramos really isn’t a strikeout pitcher. With a career average of 7.18 per nine innings, Ramos is averaging a career low 5.94 strikeouts this season with a 14.3% strikeout rate.
He is getting hitters out through the groundball. For only the third time in his career, Ramos is getting outs through the groundball over 50% of the time.
However, Ramos is giving up an average of 11.9 hits per nine innings. If the Astros can take advantage of his .319 average against and his 1.80 WHIP, the offense should be able to provide runs for Fiers.
Fiers has had a tough season out of the starting rotation for the Astros. With a fastball that hovers at the high eighties to low nineties, Fiers has been known to be more of a fly ball pitcher.
His fly ball percentage has dropped drastically from 42.1% to 24% this season.
However, Fiers has been known to give up the long ball. In his eight appearances, Fiers has given up eight home runs, which is two less than he gave up a year ago. This means that 22.2% of all of the fly balls he gives up become home runs.
With an offense that includes ample power including Prince Fielder and Adrian Beltre, the Texas Rangers have an ample opportunity to make Fiers’ numbers on the year look worse. Look for this game to be a straight up slug fest on both sides.
**Statistics provided by Baseball-Reference**