Series Preview: Houston Astros at Texas Rangers, September 14-17, 2015
Since April, Houston has been basically a .500 baseball club. While the Rangers went 18-10 in August to pull themselves back into the American League. Now both teams are set to take a stranglehold on the American League West with a series win this week.
The Astros lead the Rangers by 1.5 games in the standings, and Texas is currently one game ahead of the Twins for the second spot in the wild card.
The Rangers have taken eight of the first 12 games played between these teams. Texas has won 7 of the last nine games between the two teams -- including a three game sweep in early August.
Houston is 4-6 in their last ten games, and they are 2-4 on their current road trip. The Rangers are six and four in theirlast ten with series win over the A's in their current homestand.
This is arguably the biggest regular season series for the Astros since 2005, and they come rolling on on high after beating the Angels in the ninth inning. Can they turn that into success in Arlington, we'll have to wait and see.
Monday: LHP Scott Kazmir (7-10, 2.63 ERA, 1.14 WHIP) vs. LHP Cole Hamels (9-8, 3.76 ERA, 1.22 WHIP)
Tuesday: RHP Collin McHugh (16-7, 3.89 ERA, 1.27 WHIP) vs. LHP Martin Perez (2-5, 5.43 ERA, 1.50 WHIP)
Wednesday: LHP Dallas Keuchel (17-7, 2.22 ERA, 1.00 WHIP) vs. LHP Derek Holland (3-2, 3.13 ERA, 0.99 WHIP)
Thursday: RHP Lance McCullers (5-5, 3.10 ERA, 1.21 WHIP) vs. RHP Colby Lewis (15-8, 4.45 ERA, 1.21 WHIP)
The Astros send out Scott Kazmir for his 10th start as an Astros already. He is 1-5 with a 3.59 ERA in his last seven starts. He pitched against Texas on August 5, allowing one run over 5.2 innings. Texas rolls out their big gun in game one with Cole Hamels on the mound. Hamels is 3-0 with 3.34 ERA in his last five starts. In Arlington, he is 1-0 with a 2.40 ERA in two starts.
Doctor McHugh continues to roll in the second half, he is 7-2 with a 2.80 ERA in his last 10 starts. In one start in Arlington this season, he pitched six inning of one-run baseball on April 10. Martin Perez is 1-3 with a 5.64 ERA in his last four starts.
Dallas Keuchel's campaign to win the AL Cy-Young award makes a stop in Arlington. Away from Minute Maid, he is 4-7 with a 3.13 ERA. Derek Holland returned from the disabled list on August 19, he had quality starts in three of his first four outings. But in his most recent, Sept. 10 against the Mariners, he gave up five runs over seven innings.
Lance McCullers had three-straight quality starts since returning to the majors on August 23. He left his most recent start after five innings and a 100 pitches, giving two runs to the Angels. Colby Lewis had a perfect game bid go into the eighth inning against the Athletics, but it turned into a complete game shutout -- before that start he had given up 18 runs over his last 15.2 innings.
Carlos Gomez is out of the lineup with a intercostal discomfort, batting .300 (6x20) with five extra base hits. Marwin Gonzalez has a swollen thumb and is batting .368 (7x19) with three extra base hits. Jose Altuve and George Springer are both batting .280 (7x25) in their last six games.
Shin-Soo Choo is the only Ranger batting over .300 for the last seven games - he is batting .360 (9x25) with a double and two home runs. Rougned Odor and Adrian Beltre have two home runs each in their last seven games.
I'll happily take a split of this series and the Astros squeak out two wins.