After having a day off, the Texas Rangers continue interleague play at home as they host the New York Mets for a weekend three-game set. Tonight is the first time since 2003 that the Mets have made their way to Arlington, Texas.
Despite being unable to sweep the Houston Astros Wednesday night – thanks to four runs given up in the ninth by Neftali Feliz – the Rangers lead the American League West and are two and a half games ahead of the Seattle Mariners. In interleague play this season, the Rangers are 5-4 overall and will look to increase that record tonight.
Now, what makes tonight’s game such an interesting matchup on the mound is that neither of the starters have faced the opposing team in their career. Let’s have a looksie, shall we?
Oh, and by the way, Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks and the MVP from the 2011 NBA Finals will be throwing the first pitch tonight. And to show their support and to honor the champs, there will be a Dallas Mavs flag flying at the home plate gate entrance.
LHP Matt Harrison gets the start for the Rangers as well as his very first look at the Mets. Harrison is 5-6 for the season with a 3.16 ERA. Last time out he didn’t factor in the decision after allowing three runs – one earned – on three hits over 6.1 innings against the Braves. His previous two outings were both losses in which he allowed four runs on eight hits over four innings on June 7 against the Tigers and two runs on five hits over six innings on June 12 against Minnesota. Two wins came before those in which he allowed no runs over six innings on May 28 against the Royals and no runs over 8.1 innings on May 22 against the Phillies. Harrison has been on and then off so we’ll hope that he is on as he faces the Mets for the first time tonight.
Harrison has lost four of his previous five starts at home so he will look to change those stats tonight. Harrison is 1-0 for his two interleague starts on the road this year with an incredible 0.61 ERA. In his eight career interleague appearances, he has gone 1-1 with a single save allowing 13 earned runs over 32 innings pitched.
The Mets will counter with RHP Mike Pelfrey. Pelfrey is 4-5 this year with a 4.70 earned run average. Last time out was a win for him after throwing a complete game of just one run allowed against the Angels. This was his first win since May 10 against the Rockies. On June 13 against Pittsburgh, Pelfrey got the loss after pitching seven innings and allowing two runs on four hits. Pelfrey has never faced the Texas Rangers in his MLB career so he’ll travel to Arlington to face the Rangers for the first time ever – who have a decent offense going on right now.
Pelfrey will look to get his first win on the road since May 10 tonight – he’s lost four of his previous five road starts. Having a look at his previous two road starts for interleague play, they were both against the New York Yankees and needless to say the Mets and Pelfrey didn’t make New York proud in either of them giving up both games.
Pitchers vs. Hitters
RHP Mike Pelfrey: Andres Blanco is 1-for-3 with a double and Yorvit Torealba is 1-for-6.
Ian Kinsler picked up his 15th steal of the season Wednesday. The New York Mets and the Texas Rangers are tied for most stolen bases in the MLB with 74 stolen bases.
Jose Reyes is second in the National League with a .338 batting average and will be the primary opposing hitter for Harrison to keep an eye on – and who will be his biggest competition.
Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz and Michael Young are all hot right now – especially against the NL – meaning these are the guys that Pelfrey has to look out for and who could also damage his ability to bounce back from road start losses.
Hamilton is hitting .375 against the NL in six appearance while recording two home runs and eight runs batted in; he is also on a 17-game hitting streak in interleague play at home. Cruz has a .400 batting average in his six games against the National league this year and has two home runs as well as six RBIs. Young has been featured in nine interleague games this season and is batting .368.