Well sort of hot.
|Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett for his weekly visit and wastes no time sounding off on MLB umpire Angel Hernandez.
Here's some storylines to watch for this weekend as the Lone Star Series continues:
1. Rotation changes in H-Town: The Astros overhauled their starting rotation on Wednesday as rookie manager Bo Porter put left-handers Dallas Keuchel and Erik Bedard in the rotation and moved slumping right-hander Philip Humber in the bullpen. Porter admitted that part of the reshuffling has to do with a Rangers' lineup that is stacked with left-handed hitters. Though with catcher A.J. Pierzynski's trip to the 15-day disabled list and David Murphy's prolonged slump, the Rangers' should only have one left-handed batter in the lineup Friday and Saturday, first baseman Mitch Moreland. Keuchel, who makes his first start of the season Friday, is 0-1 with a 4.96 ERA in relief, but did limit the Rangers to a run in five innings in his only other career start last June.
2. Altuve an All-Star: Astros second baseman Jose Altuve looks like a lock to be the Astros' lone All-Star representative. He's fifth in the American League in batting with a .336 average. He has eight doubles and a slugging percentage of .453. He also has 17 RBIs, fourth among Al second basemen behind the Yankees' Robinson Cano (20), the Rangers' Ian Kinsler (20) and Tampa Bay's Kelly Johnson (18).
3. Strikeout kings: The Astros are still running away with the Major League lead in strikeouts with 353. That's 49 more than their closest pursuers, the Atlanta Braves. Houston is averaging just over 10 strikeouts per game. They had 33 Ks in the season-opening series against the Rangers, including 14 by Yu Darvish in his near perfect game. Alexi Ogando is pitching Friday's series opener and he had 10 strikeouts while opening night starter Matt Harrison, who is on the disabled list, had nine strikeouts in the Astros' lone win of the first series.
4. How about Marwin?: Astros shortstop Marwin Gonzalez broke up Yu Darvish's perfect game bid you might remember with a single under the pitcher's glove with two outs in the bottom of the ninth back on April 2. Gonzalez maintained a strong start for a while but has dipped to .253 for the season and only played in one of three games against the Angels. Gonzalez is 2-for-19 for May with two RBIs. He had his average as high as .321 on April 27.
Rangers domination: The Rangers are 16-4 against the Astros since 2010 and have won six of the last seven games against Houston. It should be a favorable setting for the Rangers at Minute Maid Park with Texas fans sure to turn out for Yu Darvish in droves on Saturday night, hoping for another magical night.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Rangers GM Jon Daniels joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to tackle the tough questions after his team failed to advance to the playoffs.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss having Nelson Cruz back in the lineup and how the Rangers are feeling heading into their wild-card play-in game against the Rays.
Play Podcast ESPN Insider and senior MLB analyst Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the wild-card race and the Rangers' chances of making the playoffs.
Play Podcast Chuck Cooperstein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why he feels Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish isn't an ace.
Play Podcast Elvis Andrus joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Rangers' stretch run and the morale level in their clubhouse.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss the latest Rangers news, including the team's struggles, Ron Washington's job security and a rumored trade with the Braves.
Play Podcast Ron Washington joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss the Rangers' dismal September, who's to blame for their September struggles and his status as the team's manager.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss how some people are calling for the Rangers to fire manager Ron Washington.