Arlington at Houston , 7:10 pm (CT)
The one overlapping fact thus far in 2013, the Rangers have absolutely dominated Astros home and away. Houston, lead by Bud Norris (ah, memories) took the Opening Night game against Texas by a score of 8-2. Since then, the Rangers are 6-1 against Houston this season.
Texas must smell the blood in the water, as the Rangers are now dead even with A's in the American League West. Texas are winners of nine of their last ten, that includes putting the Angels out of their misery with two 3-game sweeps during this stretch.
The Rangers offense has been clicking on all cylinders over the last ten games. Leading the way for the Rangers with MVP-like number is Andrian Beltre. Beltre is batting .450 (18-40) with three home runs and 12 runs batted in. Craig Gentry has been platooning with Jeff Baker, batting .381 (8-21) with four stolen bases.
Elvis Andrus has broken out of his June slump were he hit .196, batting .308 in the months since with 23 runs scored and 13 stolen bases. Leonys Martin has been solid in center, batting .289 (13-45) for his last ten games with eight runs scored and seven runs batted in. Ian Kinsler and David Murphy are both batting less than .200 over their last seven games.
The Rangers failed to find a replacement for Nelson Cruz before the deadline, not knowing if he would be suspended or not. In his place, they called up Joey Butler. He will help nicely with the Astros' left-handed heavy rotation this series. Butler is batting .321 with a .532 slugging percentage against left-handers with Triple-A Round Rock. As of today, the Rangers reached an agreement to acquire Alex Rios from the White Sox of waivers. Rois a serviceable right-handed bat, hitting .277 with 12 home runs and 55 runs batted in.
Tonight's starter for the Rangers is the recently acquired Matt Garza. The former Chicago ‘ace' has held his own thus far when not complaining about players' wives on twitter. He picked up his first lost since June 11 in his last start, giving up four runs over eight innings against Oakland. A very similar performance to his last outing against Houston on June 21, Garza held the Astros to one earned run over eight innings with eight strikeouts. Garza has record of 0-2 with 7.36 in two starts at Minute Maid Park.
Chris Carter burninated Garza for a double and a homerun in their lone meeting this season. Outside of that, there is nothing but crickets from the Astros' bats. Jose Altuve (1-8), Brandon Barnes (0-4), Jason Castro (1-6), Matt Dominguez (0-2), and Brett Wallace (0-4) have struggled against the right-hander.
Cater returns to the lineup tonight, batting .119 and strikeouts in 44% of his at-bats since the All-Streak break. Robbie Grossman and Hoes are at the top of the order tonight, batting over .350 and a collective total of five stolen bases. Grossman is also tied with Wallace with two home runs for team lead over last six games.
What new tricks will tonight's Astros starter, Erik Bedard, have up his sleeve tonight? He is coming off his second lowest ERA in a moth this season - 3.86 ERA in July. Bedard's most recent start, in Minnesota, was his seventh quality start of the season. Bedard held the twins to three runs over six innings and striking out six. In 14 2/3 innings against Texas this season, Bedard has a 3.68 ERA. Five of the six earned runs collected by the Rangers off Bedard have come in the form of the long ball. A.J. Pierzynski has one digger and Adrian Beltre has two off the left-hander.