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Game No. 109 Preview: Houston Astros at Texas Rangers

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AL Pitcher of the month Scott Kazmir takes his 0.26 July ERA to the mound to face the Rangers' Nick Martinez.

Jose Altuve's comfort level at the plate and ability to rebound from a rough game last night will be a key for tonight's matchup
Jose Altuve's comfort level at the plate and ability to rebound from a rough game last night will be a key for tonight's matchup
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Astros (60-48) at Texas Rangers (53-53), Aug 5, 2015 7:05 PM CDT

TV: Roots Sports SW, MLB.TV

Radio: KBME 790 AM, KLAT 1010 AM

Rangers SB Nation Blog: Lone Star Ball

Pitching Matchup:

LHP Scott Kazmir (6-5, 2.10 ERA, 1.04 WHIP) vs. RHP Nick Martinez (6-6, 4.01 ERA, 1.42 WHIP)

Preview

Fresh off joining Dallas Keuchel (twice) as the Astros' third recipient of the "AL Pitcher Of The Month" award - after just four months of baseball - by posting an absurd 0.26 ERA for the month.  He has yet to allow a run in an Astros uniform (quick, find some wood to knock on) through 14.2 innings, and his aforementioned microscopic July ERA was the third lowest in baseball history.  All that said, he's bound to give up some runs eventually...but Astros fans will be hoping he can keep the streak going and right the ship after two very embarrassing losses to the third place Texas Rangers.

Opposite Kazmir, Nick Martinez will attempt to match up favorably.  His numbers on the season haven't been inspiring (his 4.01 ERA isn't great to begin with, but it pales even further when compared to his 4.81 FIP and 1.42 WHIP) but his career numbers against the Astros are much better.  Against the Astros in 2014, he posted a 2-1 record in five appearances (three starts) with a stingy 1.80 ERA.  The Astros hitters will hopefully be very selective with the pitches they swing at in an effort to drive Martinez's pitch count up early and get another crack at the Rangers' weakness, their bullpen.

One particular player to watch in this game will be Jose Altuve, who has been scuffling recently (just two for his last ten, but mostly he just looked very, very uncomfortable at the plate in last night's 4-3 loss) and is in need of a solid game to get back on track as the team's spark plug at the top of the lineup.

Scott Kazmir has thus far pitched very well against the Rangers in 2015, with a 2-0 record and a 1.29 ERA in three starts while striking out 22 hitters in 21 innings.  The Astros have only lost back to back games twice since the All Star Break and will look to avoid getting swept at the hands of the Rangers for the second time this season.

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