Yesterday's win against the Los Angeles Dodgers was a huge victory for the Texas Rangers. After being dominated on both Friday and Saturday, and then falling behind 4 to 0 in the top half of the first, you could almost hear the collective, "here we go again". Well, thank goodness the Rangers had different plans, and came roaring back to not only take the lead, but to get the win, 8 to 4.
With the win the Rangers finished up their nine-game home stand that pitted the club against three first place teams at 7-2. The win yesterday also increased the win total for the Rangers on Sundays. Texas is now 12-5 on Sundays for the season, and 8-1 on Sundays at home while donning the baby blues. Sunday is my favorite day of the week, and it appears to be the Rangers as well. Sunday Funday is a real thing this year in Arlington.
Texas Rangers schedule versus the Houston Astros
Date and Time
Probable Pitcher Rangers
Probable Pitcher Astros
Mon 24th - 7:10 CT
Jon Gray RHP 6-5, 3.31 ERA, 83 SO
Brandon Bielak RHP 5-5, 3.46 ERA, 50 SO
Tues 25th - 7:10 CT
J.P. France RHP 5-3, 3.13 ERA, 55 SO
Wed 26th - 7:10 CT
Andrew Heaney LHP 6-6, 4.58 ERA, 100 SO
Framber Valdez LHP 8-6, 2.94 ERA, 133 SO
Texas Rangers and Houston Astros to tussle in a battle for the AL West
More than just the Silver Boot is on the line this week, the Rangers and Astros are playing for the AL West this year. The Astros hold the series advantage at the moment, four games to three. Other than bragging rights and the Silver Boot trophy, in the past there has been little at stake for the two teams playing head-to-head. The Rangers dominated the season series with the Astros early on, when Houston moved over to the American League, and Houston has dominated everyone, including the Rangers, the last several seasons.
This year, the season series seems to carry more weight with it, as the two teams are neck and neck, battling for the AL West title. Not only can the Rangers extend their lead in the division with a series win this week, but it would put them back in the running for the season series, which would give them the tiebreaker against the Astros, should the two teams finish the regular season in a tie. With the Astros holding the advantage at the moment, the Rangers will need to win four out of the remaining six games with Houston to win the season series and have the tiebreaker advantage. That is a tall ask, but if the boys can take two of three this week, that will square the teams up, and setup a showdown in Arlington, September 4th-6th.
The Astros appear to be getting back some critical offensive reinforcements just in time to deploy them against the Rangers. Both Yordan Alvarez and Jose Altuve look to be ready to return to the team and play in the series. No official word has been released as of this writing, but everything seems like Alvarez is healed from his sickness that slowed his rehab stent, meaning he will be good to return. Also, Altuve was hitting on the field in Oakland with the team again yesterday, so he could be ready as well.
One thing is for sure, whoever is in the lineup for the two clubs, it should be some intense baseball. In the last four games the two teams played in Arlington, the margin of victory was no more than three runs, with two of the contests being two run games, and the finale being the wild 11-12 Rangers loss. That was a tough loss, but after being down 6 to 0, and then 10 to 2, to come back and take the lead, only to squander it in the ninth, was a testament to the fight that the Rangers have this year. It will require that grit and determination to continue to stay ahead of the Astros and take care of business this week.
Texas Rangers ace, Nathan Eovaldi to skip next start
Many Rangers fans were saddened, and even disappointed, to hear that the team will be taking on the Astros without their ace, Nathan Eovaldi. Eovaldi's velocity has been down over the last month or so, and the Rangers felt like it would be wise to give the pitcher some extra time off and skip his next start.
With 123 2/3 innings pitched; he has already eclipsed his 2022 total of 109 1/3 innings. Eovaldi did throw 182 1/3 innings in 2021, but you have to go back to 2016 when he went 124 2/3 to get to another season where he was at his current level. Basically, he is tired and needs a little breather. Anyone that has seen Eovaldi pitch this year, knows that he is a competitor and will give everything that he has, each time he takes the ball. Is this the best timing with the Rangers heading to Houston, absolutely not, but it is the right move in the moment.
What good would it do the Rangers to throw him this start, only to further have him regress in velocity and fatigue? There is no guarantee that he wins if he pitches this week, and there is also no guarantee that the Rangers lose if he doesn't. Taking care of Eovaldi's arm is the main thing, so he can be ready to deliver down the stretch and hopefully well into October. It is yet to be determined who will take the ball in game two, and that decision could be dependent on how tonight's game goes and how the bullpen is needed.
Texas Rangers week at a glance
After the three-game series in Houston, Monday thru Wednesday, the Rangers will have an off day on Thursday. The club will remain on the road, as they travel to San Diego to take on the Padres in a three-game weekend series. The Padres are having a disappointing season to this point, but they have one of the most star-studded lineups in MLB.
The next several days won't define the 2023 season, but they can go a long way in achieving some goals. The Rangers will look to close the books on a July that started terribly but has since been positive. At 10-8 for the month, Texas will do their best to finish well above .500 for July. The quest starts tonight, in Houston.