Previewing the Texas Rangers' fifth series of the season: Houston Astros

Will Smith celebrates a strikeout against the Kansas City Royals.
Will Smith celebrates a strikeout against the Kansas City Royals. / Sam Hodde/GettyImages

After an off day on Thursday, the Texas Rangers will take to the road for a six-game, six-day road trip that starts in Houston on Friday and ends in Kansas City on Wednesday afternoon. The Rangers (7 - 5) are tied with the Angels for first place in the AL West. They will be taking on the reigning World Series Champion, Houston Astros (6 - 7) for a three game weekend series. Coming off of a series win against the Royals at home, the Rangers will be looking to win back-to-back series for the first time in 2023.

Date and Time

Rangers Probable Starter

Astros Probable Starter

Fri 14th - 7:10 CT

Martin Perez - LHP

Luis Garcia - RHP

Sat 15th - 6:10 CT

Jon Gray - RHP

Hunter Brown - RHP

Sun 16th - 6:10 CT (ESPN)

Andrew Heaney - LHP

Framber Valdez - LHP

Winning against the Astros, lately, is something that has been a struggle for the Rangers, as well as most all teams. Over the last six seasons the Astros hold a head-to-head record over the Rangers of 70 - 35. I knew that it had been bad, but when I looked it up, it was a bit jarring to be honest. The past two seasons the Astros were 14 - 5 against the in-state rival Rangers. It is worth noting that the Rangers will not lose 14 regular season games against the Astros again this year, as MLB has shifted to a balanced schedule. With the new schedule, teams will play division opponents 13 times per year instead of the 19 that had taken place in recent seasons.

If you go back and look at the last ten seasons, the Astros hold a 93 - 88 head-to-head lead. In that time frame the battle for the Silver Boot has historically been lopsided. Outside of a 5 - 5 split during the 2020 short season, the only close year was 2014 when the Astros held an 11 - 8 record. The largest win total difference over that same ten-year span, came in 2013 when the Rangers went 17 - 2.

One of the biggest story lines to this weekend's series, is the absence of an All-Star middle infielder from each club. The Astros will be without eight-time All-Star Jose Altuve until the end of May at the very earliest. Altuve suffered a broken thumb when he was hit by a pitch from Colorado Rockies closer, Daniel Bard during the World Baseball Classic, that required surgery. On the Rangers side, Corey Seager will be missing, as he was placed on the IL on Wednesday. During Tuesday night's Ranger game against the Royals, Seager suffered a hamstring injury that will keep him out of action for a minimum of four weeks.

Offensively for the Astros, it comes as no surprise that Kyle Tucker and Yordan Alvarez are again leading the charge. Tucker is slashing .311/.429/.622, has four home runs, and a 186 wRC+. Alvarez is slashing .300/.420/.575, has three home runs, and a 172 wRC+. Obviously, there are others that can hit well for the Astros, but these two lefties are the motor that makes the machine in Houston.

Houston has played one more game so far this season, but the runs scored and runs against are close to a dead heat. The Rangers have scored 67 runs to the Astros' 66 and both teams have given up 53 runs.

The season is early, and a team can't make the playoffs in April. That is all true, but this series does have a big feeling to it. The Rangers will be trying to prove that they can hang with the champs and the Astros will be trying to wield their recent dominance over the Rangers. Throw in another Sunday night baseball game on ESPN to wrap up the series, and this one should be worth tuning into.