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Game No. 145 Preview: Houston Astros at Texas Rangers

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Jose Altuve looks to continue his torrid pace as the AL hits leader for the second consecutive year, Astros look to rebound from a tough loss in second of four game series

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Astros (77-67) at Texas Rangers (76-67), Sep 15, 2015 7:05 PM CDT

TV: Root Sports SW, MLB.TV, ESPN
Radio: KBME 790 AM, KLAT 1010 AM
Rangers SB Nation Blog: Lone Star Ball

Pitching Matchup:

RHP Collin McHugh (16-7, 3.89 ERA, 1.27 WHIP) vs. LHP Derek Holland (3-2, 3.13 ERA, 0.99 WHIP)

Preview:

Not only is there contending baseball in Houston again in September...but there is MUST WATCH baseball in Houston again in September.  If you have to work, set your DVRs.  If you have a PTA meeting, or a neighborhood watch meeting, or if your wife is dragging you to the ballet, or any other possible situation that prevents you from tuning in...I hope you have your DVR set.

The Houston Astros lost a nail biter to their suddenly-bitter instate rivals, the Texas Rangers, last night.

Tonight, the key for the team will be hitting.  It seems reasonable to expect that Collin McHugh will mostly keep the Astros in the game...but the bats are going to have to reawaken and do their part.  That could be a tall order against the currently-hot Derek Holland.

Everyone knows that one Rangers fan (I know several) who is unaware what their team's Pythagorean Record or Run Differential are...and those same folks are invariably the ones who refer to Derek Holland as an ace.  Take heart, Astros fans, and don't take the bait to argue.  Just know, in your own mind, that Derek Holland's FIP is 4.19 and his career ERA is 4.18, and his current BABIP of .255 - signaling that he's sorely due for some really bad starts, very soon.  This knowledge will be a talisman in your heart, insulating you from silly statements and enabling you to smile blandly and benignly into those pedantic faces.

Now that I say that, of course, Holland will probably come out and pitch brilliantly, in defiance of all reason and ration and statistical fact.  But it doesn't change what he is...or make him into what he isn't.  No matter how this start goes, take heart Astros fans.  His time is coming, and soon.

Collin McHugh, on the other hand, has been 7-2 with a 2.80 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP since the All Star Break.  Last season, he was 7-1 with a 2.12 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP after the All Star Break, lending itself strongly to the idea that Collin is a good guy to have on the mound down the stretch.

Jose Altuve notched another multi-hit game last night and is now tied for the major league lead in hits (at 176, with Dee Gordon) and is in first place in the AL in hits over Xander Bogaerts (173) and looking to remain at the top. It is probably reasonable to expect another big night from him, and Astros fans will certainly hope that George Springer and Carlos Correa will be able to barrel up some baseballs - or at least work good, long at bats to wear down Holland faster.

Of note: Joey Gallo has returned to the lineup for the Rangers.  His prodigious power commands wariness, but his strikeout rate surely must have Collin McHugh salivating.  Also, Jonathan Villar will be starting for Jed Lowrie, who is still nursing the contusion on his shin.

Here are the starting lineups for both teams:

Houston:

Texas:

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