The Texas Rangers have the opportunity to overtake Houston for first place in the American League West when they host the Astros on Tuesday in the second contest of their four-game series. Texas won the opener 5-3 to move within one-half game of Houston and also holds a one-game lead over Minnesota for the second AL wild-card spot.
Rangers slugger Prince Fielder scored three times and drilled the tiebreaking two-run homer in the eighth inning of Monday’s contest. Texas is 9-4 against the Astros this season while slumping Houston is just 2-5 on its 10-game road trip and owns one of the worst road records (29-43) in the majors. Houston’s Jose Altuve homered as part of his third straight two-hit performance and is 9-for-22 with five doubles during his five-game hitting streak. Tuesday’s game features a couple of hot starters in Houston’s Collin McHugh – who is 3-0 with a 1.89 ERA in three career starts against the Rangers – and Texas’ Derek Holland, who allowed one run in 17 innings over a two-start span before losing to Seattle in his last turn.
TV: 8:05 p.m. ET, ESPN, ROOT (Houston), FSN Southwest (Texas)
LINE HISTORY: Books opened the Rangers around +104. The total opened at 9.
INJURY REPORT: Astros – CF Carlos Gomez (Doubtful, ribs), 3B Jed Lowrie (Questionable, shin), C Jason Castro (15-day DL, leg). Rangers – LF Josh Hamilton (Out indefinitely, knee), C Robinson Chirinos (Late Sept., bicep).
WEATHER: Temperatures will be in the low-80s under partly cloudy skies. Wind will blow in from center field at 12 miles per hour.
WHAT CAPPERS SAY: “It may look like the AL Manager of the Year is a two-horse race between Joe Girardi and Ned Yost, but what about the job AJ Hinch has done in Houston? He’s younger and less experienced than those two, but you wouldn’t know if from the job he’s done turning in a winner in his first season. The Rangers announced last week that OF/DH Josh Hamilton will have surgery to repair the meniscus in his knee. The good news is that this is an orthoscopic procedure and Hamilton may be available to play (probably only DH) by the final week of the regular season.” Covers Expert Big Al McMordie.
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PITCHING MATCHUP: Astros RH Collin McHugh (16-7, 3.89 ERA) vs. Rangers LH Derek Holland (3-2, 3.13)
McHugh has won three consecutive starts and seven of his last nine decisions. He allowed two runs or fewer in six consecutive outings before giving up five runs and six hits in 5 1/3 innings against Oakland in his last turn. McHugh is 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA in two 2015 starts against the Rangers .
Holland was moved up a day to follow Cole Hamels in the rotation due to his recent stretch of strong outings. “I still have to go out there and perform and be me,” Holland told reporters. “I can’t worry about being the hottest pitcher or any of those sayings that are out there as well.” Holland is 3-2 with a 3.64 ERA in eight career starts against the Astros.
* Rangers are 4-1 in Holland’s last five starts vs. Astros.
* Over is 5-0 in umpire Phil Cuzzi’s last five games behind home plate.
* Astros are 7-3 in McHugh’s last 10 starts.
* Under is 6-1-1 in Rangers last eight home games.
COVERS CONSENSUS: Fifty-four percent of Covers users are backing the Rangers.