Monday, August 19, 2013
W2W4: Texas Rangers vs. Houston Astros
By Todd Wills
Rangers (71-53, 1st place AL West) vs. Houston Astros (41-82, 5th place AL West)
Monday: RHP Matt Garza (8-2, 3.40 ERA) vs. RHP Lucas Harrell (6-13, 5.16), 7:05 p.m.
Tuesday: TBA vs. RHP Jarred Cosart (1-0, 1.15), 7:05 p.m.
Wednesday: LHP Derek Holland (9-6, 2.95) vs. LHP Erik Bedard (3-9, 4.49), 7:05 p.m.
What to Watch For:
Road trip roll: The Rangers are 11-2 against the Astros this season, but don't start thinking Houston is easy prey. The Astros have won both of their series on their current nine-game road trip, taking two out of three from each the Oakland Athletics and the Los Angeles Angels. Houston third baseman Matt Dominguez provided the big blow Sunday afternoon against the Angels, snapping a 3-3 tie with a three-run home run in the seventh inning that spurred the Astros to a 7-5 victory. The Astros hadn't won a series in two months before this week.
On the run: Just like the Rangers, the Astros have been on the run since the All-Star break. Houston has 35 stolen bases since the break, second to Kansas City's 36 steals, which lead the American League. The Rangers are third since the break with 34 stolen bases. Shortstop Elvis Andrus is second in the major leagues with 12 stolen bases since the break, while Astros rookie Jonathan Villar is third with 11.
Cosart for first time: The Rangers swept a four-game series in Houston last Friday-Monday, but they had the good fortune of avoiding Astros rookie starter Cosart. The 23-year-old right-hander has four quality starts to begin his major league career. Cosart is one of only two pitchers this season to begin their careers with four quality starts, joining teammate Brett Oberholtzer. Cosart has allowed five earned runs in 39 innings. He has 18 strikeouts and 18 walks.
Beware of Grossman: Astros left fielder Robbie Grossman has been swinging the bat well and playing great defense since being called up from Triple-A Oklahoma City on July 27. Grossman is batting .350 with three home runs, 11 RBIs and an on-base percentage of .402. Grossman also robbed Oakland's Chris Young of a home run in the 10th inning on Wednesday night, a game the Astros eventually won 2-1 in 11 innings.
Young guns: The Astros have the youngest roster in the majors with an average payroll of 25.6 years old. Houston is carrying 13 rookies on its roster, including five relievers. The Astros have had 12 players make their major league debut this season. Houston has a current payroll of $13.5 million. Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre is making $16 million this season.