Game No. 91 Preview: Astros at Rangers

Ronald Martinez

The battle for the basement has a new contestant - the Arlington Rangers.

Houston Astros (36-50) at Arlington Rangers (47-36), 7:05 p.m. (CST)

TV: CSN Houston, MLB.TV
Radio: KBME 790 AM, KLAT 1010 AM
Rangers SBNation BlogLone Star Ball

Pitching matchup

RHP Jarred Cosart (8-6, 3.93 ERA, 1.36 WHIP) vs. RHP Miles Mikolas (0-0, 5.06 ERA, 0.94 WHIP)

Preview

The Rangers fall from grace has been in the background for the most part in the American League West - Athletics are doing what they do, Angels are finally living up to their potential, and the Mariners are enjoying the fruit of their Robinson Cano purchase. The lack of pitching and injures finally took their toll, the Rangers were 9-17 in the month of June. I had circled this series in hopes of having the Astros pass the Rangers in the standings. But, the Astros haven't won a game in seven tries. Thankfully the Rangers haven't been much better, 1-7 in their last eight. The teams still sit three games apart, so maybe they could tie going into the final series before the All-Star break.

Jarred Cosart takes the mound for the Astros today, looking to return to his previous form after his six-run outing against the Mariners on July 1. Before that game Cosart had won four straight decisions, and had given up just seven runs over 28 innings. Cosart's undoing against the Mariners was his walks allowed, it was the first time in six starts that he had given up more then two. He returns to Globe Life Park for his third career start against the Rangers, he has a 0-1 record with a 4.15 ERA - six runs on 10 hits over 13 innings. The icing on the cake, Cosart is he's 0-5 with a 6.75 ERA in seven starts against teams in the American League West this season.

Cosart has kept much of the Rangers lineup in check his career except 2014 American League All-Star third baseman Adrian Beltre, who is 2-3 with a home run and a double. Leonys Martin is 2-for-6 in his career against the Astros righty. Shin-Soo Choo is 0-4 with four strikeouts.

Miles Mikolas is a project for the Rangers for sure. In Triple-A Round Rock, Mikolas was 5-1 with a 3.22 ERA in 16 games (six starts). His last start at any level before this season was in 2009. He held Baltimore to three runs on three hits over 5.1 innings in his first start on July 2 - striking out four and walking two. Will Astros make Mikolas look like Cy Young like so fresh faces pitchers before him? Probably.

Yes probably, because the Astros lineup has been stinking up the joint. The Astros have four players with anOPS over .700 in the team's last seven games - Marwin Gonzalez (1.067 in 18 AB), Chris Carter (1.046 in 15 AB), Enrique Hernandez (1.038 in 17 AB), and Jason Castro (.781 in 20 AB). Jon Singelton is batting .042 in his last 24 at-bats with 10 strikeouts. George Springer is 4-for-26 in his last six games with 13 strikeouts. Even Jose Altuve has struggled, he is 6-for-28 with two stolen bases.

To sum up the Rangers offense in one sentence, Carlos Pena is starting at first for Arlington. Yes, that Carlos Pena.

Prediction

The Astros have along track record of making young pitchers they haven't seen before, no matter the quality, look very good. That said, it's too much to ask for the Astros to make a guy that made seven professional starts since 2009 look good. Astros us the launching pad in Arlington to get runs early and often to break the losing streak tonight.

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