The Texas Rangers are headed home to host the National League Texas MLB team, the Houston Astros, in a three-game set. The Rangers are coming off a series win against the Atlanta Braves despite giving up the final game of the set last night.
Both teams head into tonight’s game having won three out of their last 10 games with a current streak of one loss. However, the Rangers lead their division – even if it is just barely – and the Astros currently have the worst record in the Major Leagues. Out of six meetings in Arlington against Houston, the Rangers have won four of those.
Houston may make their record worse as they face the Rangers without one of their key players – Hunter Pence – and career .326 hitter against the Rangers on the road. He is also in the top five for batting average, hits, RBIs as well as doubles. Pence’s MRI did come back showing that there was no significant damage to his left elbow, which he injured after sliding into first base last Friday. He has been diagnosed with just a sprain and is listed as being day-to-day for now.
The Houston Astros will start with LHP J.A. Happ on the mound tonight. The 28-year-old is 3-8 this year with a 4.95 ERA. He has 66 strikeouts and 39 walks for the season and has not won since May 14 when he allowed just two runs on five hits against the New York Mets in Houston. Last time out, he didn’t receive a decision after permitting two runs on six hits in five innings. He struck out seven and walked four during those five innings. On June 9, he allowed six runs on six hits over 5.1 innings. Four out of his six previous games, he has allowed three or more runs in no more than six innings.The Rangers will counter with their LHP Derek Holland. The 24-year-old pitcher is 5-2 this season with a 4.78 earned run average. He has recorded 70 strikeouts and 34 walks. Last time out, he got roughed up pretty good against the Yankees allowing six runs on seven hits in just five innings. He didn’t receive a decision on June 9 against Minnesota after striking out 10 hitters, a career high for him, but his two previous games – May 30 and June 4 – were both consecutive wins for him including a complete game five-hitter shutout. The May 30 win was only thanks to the team’s offense and not necessarily because of his pitching as he allowed five on five in 5.2 innings.
Pitchers vs. Hitters
LHP Derek Holland: Holland has only pitched to a few of the Astros’ at the plate with none of them racking more than three at-bats. Only two have hits – Carlos Lee is 1-for-2 and Michael Bourn is 2-for-3.
If the Rangers want to get back on track then I think this is the team to do it against. They can easily sweep this series as long as they have their offense and pitching together. Holland can likely pull out of this one with only allowing two runs and if the Rangers offense can perform as they did the last time they had Derek on the mound, then this game is in the bag.
Final Score: 7-2 Rangers.