Texas Rangers: Brad Peacock
Darvish (13.9, 2.81): Darvish needs four outs Tuesday to reach 200 innings for the first time in his career. ... He ended his career-long four-game losing streak in his last start against Tampa Bay, lasting only five innings in an 8-2 victory over the Rays. ... Darvish matched a career high with six walks. ... Darvish is 1-4 with a 3.40 ERA for his last seven starts. ... He leads the majors with 260 strikeouts. ... Darvish makes his fifth start against the Astros. ... He is 3-1 with a 2.73 ERA. ... Darvish has come within an out of a perfect game and five outs of a no-hitter against Houston this season.
Peacock (5-5, 5.24 ERA): Peacock allowed three earned runs and had five strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings in his last start Wednesday against Cincinnati. ... He is 4-2 with a 3.58 ERA for his last 10 appearances, including eight starts. ... He has 51 strikeouts in 55 1/3 innings. ... The Astros are 5-8 in his starts. ... He is 1-8 after an Astros' loss. ... Peacock has faced the Rangers once this season, allowing a run in six innings while getting a no-decision.
Hitters: A.J. Pierzynski is 1-for-3 with a home run against Peacock. Marc Krauss is 2-for-6 with two RBIs against Darvish. Matt Dominguez has two home runs in nine at-bats against the Rangers' pitcher.
CF Leonys Martin
SS Elvis Andrus
2B Ian Kinsler
3B Adrian Beltre
C A.J. Pierzynski
RF Alex Rios
1B Mitch Moreland
DH Jurickson Profar
LF David Murphy
P Derek Holland
LF Robbie Grossman
RF L.J. Hoes
2B Jose Altuve
C Jason Castro
DH Chris Carter
3B Matt Dominguez
1B Brett Wallace
CF Brandon Barnes
SS Jake Elmore
P Brad Peacock
Holland (9-6, 3.02): Holland is on a great run with seven quality starts in his last eight outings ... He is 4-2 with a 2.33 ERA during that span ... He pitches with an extra days' rest, that after going eight shutout innings in a 4-0 victory over Oakland on Sunday ... Holland allowed four singles and had 10 strikeouts ... He didn't allow a runner to third base ... Holland has gone seven innings and allowed two runs or less in 10 of his 23 starts ... He ranks sixth in the American League with 145 strikeouts ... Holland is 7-1 with a 2.61 ERA for 12 road starts ... His .875 road winning percentage is second in the majors to Detroit's Max Scherzer (7-0, 1.000) ... Holland will make his first start of the season against Houston ... He allowed three home runs in his only career start against Houston last season, losing 6-5 at Minute Maid Park.
Peacock (1-4, 7.25): Peacock was a tough luck loser in a 3-2 loss to Minnesota on Sunday ... He allowed three runs in seven innings ... He had 10 strikeouts ... Peacock is on a three-game losing streak ... The Astros are 1-5 for his starts ... Opponents are batting .316 with four home runs in 38 at-bats this season against Peacock at Minute Maid Park ... Peacock relies on a four-seam fastball and a curve ball ... He was acquired in an offseason trade with the Oakland A's.
Hitters: Peacock faces the Rangers for the first time. The current Astros lineup is batting .227 against Holland.
The Rangers, who have made it back into a tie for the America League West lead, have a chance to push their way past Oakland in the standings by again dominating the Houston Astros in a four-game series that starts Friday at Minute Maid Park.
Texas has a pitching edge with Matt Garza, Derek Holland, Martin Perez and Yu Darvish slated to pitch against the Astros, who enter the series with a 37-76 record.
Here's what to watch for in Houston:
|Richard Durrett believes that the Rangers are better than the A's and that the Nelson Cruz suspension is a major reason why. |
Looking at lefties: Houston will throw a left-handed starter against the Rangers in three of the last four games. It starts Friday with Erik Bedard (3-8, 4.29 ERA). Bedard is 0-1 with a 3.68 ERA against the Rangers this season. After right-hander Brad Peacock (1-4, 7.25) on Saturday, the Astros will send out lefties Dallas Keuchel (5-6, 4.96) on Sunday and Brett Olberholtzer (2-0, 2.53) on Monday. Keuchel has made one start against the Rangers this season, allowing two earned runs in five innings.
Battling Astros: Houston nearly won a three-game series from American League East-leader Boston this week. The Astros took the lead into the ninth inning of Wednesday's rubber game, only to have Boston's Stephen Drew hit a three-run home run off new Houston closer Josh Fields for a 7-5 win. The Astros had a lead in all three games. They led 5-0 and 7-3 on Tuesday night before the Red Sox rallied for a 15-10 win at Minute Maid Park.
Sinking bullpen: Houston's bullpen hasn't been the same since closer Jose Veras was traded to the Detroit Tigers. Fields' blown save Wednesday night was the fourth in five opportunities for the Astros' bullpen. Since trading Veras, Houston's relief corps have a 6.58 ERA while allowing five home runs and 19 walks in 26 innings. The Astros are 30-4 when leading entering the ninth inning. The Rangers are 57-1.
Owning the West: The Rangers have obliterated AL West opponents this season. Texas is an MLB-best 33-14 against its division rivals -- including 11 wins in the last 13 games vs. AL West opponents after a road sweep of the Los Angeles Angels. The Rangers are in a stretch of 19 of 22 games against the division. They are 8-1 so far.
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.