The Astros (38-25) travel to Arlington, Texas, into enemy territory, for four games, looking to bounce back into rhythm and stampede over the Rangers (27-37).
Yes, the Astros have had their share of struggles in May, but it hasn’t been against mediocre teams, its been against some of the most prominent organizations in the AL. Against teams that when the regular season ends, the only ”W’s” which will matter, are the ones in October, and not in April, May, or June.
This series is the beginning of a stretch of games the Astros have needed. In the next month and a half, the Astros will play only one team with a winning record over 39 games. It is the stomping grounds the Astros need, which could help get all aspects of the team back into a complete rhythm and consistency which has dramatically been missed over the past few weeks. The time is now for the Astros to create a separation from the other teams in the AL West, as well as several other top-dog AL teams.
Baseball fans in Texas rant all the time about this ”interstate rivalry”, Texas-Houston, The Silver Boot, whose better?
The Rangers fans have let us know that they believe no matter what, that the Rangers are superior. But at the end of the day, when push comes to shove, it’s pretty clear who has had the dominance:
Which Texas team won a World Series?
Who has a top ten pitching staff, offense, and defense?
Which team has two pitchers arguably fighting against each other for this year’s AL Cy Young?
Who has last years AL MVP?
Who could likely have candidates for the MVP this year?
Which team has been set up to be a dynasty, while the other, has perfected the recipe to lose many of their top players, while still bragging that they have Texas superiority???
Not the Texas Rangers. The Astros have had the greater success and are more prepared for the future.
If anyone has an issue with all my hate with the Astros divisional and interstate rival, come back to me when the Rangers beat the Astros in the ALCS, win the World Series, or resign from the MLB.
On the positive side for the Rangers, Nomar Mazara did have a good May, slugging .622 with ten home runs and 23 RBI. Never the less, they are still in last place in the AL West. Their starting pitching experiment has not become what they expected. With that said, the injuries all throughout the Rangers roster is also not going to help them out.
Putting all things aside, I’ll give the Rangers a break, and focus on the upcoming series and not the past.
Thursday-7:05 PM CT: Gerrit Cole (6-1, 2.20 ERA, 116 K) faces off against Cole Hamels (3-5, 3.63 ERA, 74 K). Cole got the best of the Rangers in his two starts this year, going seven innings in both games striking out 25 total and allowing only three earned runs. Rangers’ ace Hamels will throw to the Astros. Hamels this year faced the Astros twice, surrendering three runs, all solo shots.
Friday-7:05 PM CT: AL Cy Young front-runner Justin Verlander (7-2, 1.24 ERA, 104 K) gets the nod for the Astros. Former Astro Doug Fister (1-6, 4.13 ERA, 38 K) will throw for the Rangers. Verlander, this year on the road, has a .44 ERA and 39 strikeouts. Verlander has kept the Rangers quiet this year only surrendering two runs in 14 innings against them. Fister hasn’t been nearly as good as Verlander, especially when throwing in Arlington. He is 1-2 with a 6.39 ERA at Globe Life Park. Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Evan Gattis, and Josh Reddick all have a career .300-plus average against Fister.
Saturday-6:15 PM CT: Charlie Morton (7-1, 2.84 ERA, 92 K) looks to bounce back from his worst start of the year earlier this week. Mike Minor (4-4, 5.76 ERA, 52 K) will start for the Rangers. In two starts against the Rangers this year, Morton has 26 strikeouts while only allowing three runs. Minor, in his last start against the Astros, allowed five runs over five innings.
Sunday-2:05 PM CT: Dallas Keuchel (3-8, 4.13 ERA, 63 K) will try to put his previous start behind him. Opposing Keuchel for the Rangers is Matt Moore (1-5, 7.47 ERA, 41 K.) He hasn’t been the pitcher the Rangers anticipated him to be going into the season. Keuchel has had success against the Rangers in the past. Earlier in the season, he went seven innings of shutout baseball in Arlington. Moore only lasted three innings in his only start this year against the Astros, giving up three runs on six hits.
The Rangers are a great team to face to get the Astros starting pitching back into a groove.
Astros pitching has embarrassed the Rangers bats for much of their games facing each other. Recently, however, the Astros group has struggled and needs a spark to get them back to the dominance they had earlier in the season. The Astros offense has not been overly impressive against the Rangers; however, they have shown spurts of success at times.
Again, the Astros have a strange four-game weekend series. It’s getting to the point where this four-game setup is no longer irregular and seems to be the new “norm.”
When all said and done, the Rangers are the beginning of a long and comfortable stretch for the Astros. Let’s see what the Astros can get done in Arlington!
**Statistics and information courtesy of MLB.com**