Alexi Ogando in his last outing pitching in first inning against the Atlanta Braves. (AP Photo – John Amis)
The Rangers road trip has been mostly unsuccessful so far, after losing to the Cubs and splitting with the Brewers, but the good news is the next team on the road trip is the Houston Astros. The Astros just finished a series with the Angels, an epic battle to see who could achieve last place in the AL West. The Astros were just able to hang on to last place after taking two our of three from the Angels. We have seen in very recent history that the Rangers sometime tend to have a bit of a letdown when they are playing against a much inferior opponent, like say, the Cubs or the Astros. They need to play to their potential and put more distance between themselves and the rest of the AL West.
The Astros have finally won ten games, thanks to the Angels (I just like to remind you all that the Astros took two out of three from the Angels), and that is very good when you have played over thirty. They send Dallas Keuchel to the mound tonight for his first start of the season. Keuchel, as a reliever for the Astros, is 0-1 with a 4.96 ERA, a WAR of -0.5 and a RAR of -3. Those numbers look good for the Rangers. The Rangers have played well in Houton over the past few seasons, and some of those year the Astros had pretty good teams. The Rangers should be able to knock Keuchel around a little bit tonight. Alexi Ogando will be going for the Rangers, and I hope that good Alexi shows up and dominates this less than potent offense. This is a side track, but I think when Colby Lewis gets back (and he is about to go through his rehab assignment) that Alexi is going to be moved back to a bullpen role to replace Derek Lowe or Jason Frasor. I may be way off base on this one, just what I think that the Rangers are going to do. I would be good with that too, for the record.
Saturday pits Eric Bedard (0-2, 7.36 ERA) against the master of all pitching in the American League and the guy who almost threw a no-hitter last time he pitched against the Astros, Yu Darvish (5-1, 2.56 ERA). This game should be a no brainer. The Rangers should run away with it. I say should because the Rangers have never hit Bedard that well. I hope that changes Saturday night.
Sunday has Jordan Lyles (1-0, 4.50 ERA) going up against the struggling Nick Tepesch (2-3, 4.50 ERA, but he is 0-2 with a 8.44 ERA in his last two starts). Tepesch needs to use this opportunity of playing against the Astros to get back on track. He struggled with his command in his last outing against the Cubs, looking awful. If there ever was a time to straighten that out, it would be against the Astros.
As mentioned, I think the Rangers should sweep this series, they are a much better team all around and they are at the top of the AL as far as record and pitching are concerned. I will be sorely disappointed if the Rangers do not win the series, and a little disappointed if they do not sweep the series. Lets all sit back and enjoy some Rangers baseball this weekend.