Legends On Deck

Game Of The Week: A Battle Of The Aces Preview

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This week’s installment of “Game of the Week” here at Legends on Deck will feature the in-state rivalry between the Texas Rangers (24-19) and Houston Astros (17-27). The American League West rivals who fought for the division title in 2015, seem to both be in a different position this season with the once dominant Astros now in last place eight and a half games behind the division leading Seattle Mariners and the Ranger, who had a mid-season comeback last season are now competitively in second place just two games back. On Sunday afternoon the Rangers and Astros will meet for the final game of the series  as the Rangers look for the series sweep at Minute Maid Park which will be a duel between each team’s left-handed Aces.

Series Summary:

On Friday night the Texas Rangers won the series’ opener 2-1 behind a dominant pitching performance from RHP Colby Lewis (ERA 2.75) who advanced to 3-0 on the season by pitching seven shutout innings, allowing just four hits; striking out six batters. Prince Fielder’s two run double off of the Astros’ RHP Lance McCullers (ERA 5.91) in the top of the third, put the Rangers up 2-0. McCullers worked six innings allowing two runs; off of five hits; walking three and striking out seven. Colby Rasmus helped get the Astros on the board with a RBI single to send home Jose Altuve.

On Saturday night the Texas Rangers took the series lead and guaranteed the series victory in another 2-1 win. In the top of the second Texas’ Elvis Andrus  hit a solo homerun on a fly ball to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead. The Rangers’ then added to their lead with a RBI single by Rougned Odor to send home Bryan Holaday. In the bottom of the third the Astros got on the board when Marwin Gonzalez hit a solo homerun on a line drive to left center field for a 2-1 ballgame. Cesar Ramos (ERA 3.57, 1-2)  pitched six innings for the Rangers allowing one run off of two hits; striking out four hitters. Mike Fiers (ERA 4.35, 3-2) worked seven innings for the Astros, allowing two runs; off of six hits while striking out six batters.

The Matchup:

The Texas Rangers will send LHP Cole Hamels (ERA 3.10) to the mound as he tries to improve on his 4-0 record this season. Although Hamels has had a solid start to his first full season with the Rangers, he has two no-decisions in his last two outings and has had his struggles. Although he hasn’t spent much time in the American League, Hamels has faced a majority of the Astros’ lineup in the past. Heavy hitters Jose Altuve and Colby Rasmus both have had success against the lefty so if he’ll want to add to his win column he’ll have to tread lightly when facing those two.

In 2015, the Houston Astros’ LHP Dallas Keuchel (ERA 5.43) was nearly untouchable. He was undefeated at home and was the obvious choice for Cy Young. This season however, Keuchel has struggled to say the least, he is currently 2-5 and hasn’t won a game since April 15. He is 0-4 in his last six starts with an ERA over seven in that time period. He did have a sign of positivity in his most recent start against the Chicago White Sox where he went six and one-third innings allowing three runs while striking out five batters. The Rangers’ lineup has had success against the lefty so to have success he’ll have to definitely have some “swings and misses” early and often to get ahead.

Probable Lineup:

Texas Rangers

Shin-Soo Choo, RF

Ian Desmond, CF

Prince Fielder, DH

Adrian Beltre, 3B

Rougned Odor, 2B

Mitch Moreland, 1B

Nomar Mazara, LF

Bryan Holaday, C

Elvis Andrus, SS

Houston Astros

Jose Altuve,2B

George Springer, RF

Carlos Correa, SS

Colby Rasmus, LF

Evan Gattis, DH

Colin Moran, 3B

Luis Valbuena, 1B

Jason Castro, C

Jake Marisnick, CF

 

 

 

Bethany Cohen

Bethany Cohen

Senior Editor at Legends On Deck®
Bethany is a Graduate of the University of South Florida and currently resides in Tampa. She is a die-hard Yankees' fan and has been a freelance writer for six years. She has covered the Yankees' Minor League System since 2010 and also does freelance work for Examiner.com and CBS Local Tampa Bay. Follow her on Twitter @TampaBethany
Bethany Cohen