Thursday, June 13, 2024
Sportsbook Advisor

MLB Preview: Houston Astros (79-61) at Texas Rangers (76-62)


TONIGHT’S GAME: The first-place Astros, winners of seven straight road games, will put that streak on the line tonight as they go for a three-game sweep of the Rangers in Arlington… it’s a star-studded pitching matchup of future Hall of Famers tonight between the Astros RHP Justin Verlander and the Rangers RHP Max Scherzer.

HALL OF FAME MATCHUP: All eyes will be on tonight’s starters RHP Justin Verlander and RHP Max Scherzer as they start opposite each other for the first time in their storied careers… per Elias, tonight is the first matchup of 200-game winners since LHP CC Sabathia (208) started opposite LHP Mark Buehrle (202) on May 6, 2015 at TOR, a Blue Jays 5-1 win over the Yankees…Elias also says, this is the first time two pitchers with 450 starts have faced each other since LHP Jamie Moyer (575) and RHP Greg Maddux (732) started opposite each other on Aug. 15, 2008 at SD in a Phillies 1-0 victory.

THE LONE STAR SERIES: The Astros are 8-4 against the Rangers this season, giving them a Lone Star Series victory in 2023…the Astros have now claimed the Silver Boot in each of the last seven seasons (2017-23), going 78-39 vs. the Rangers in that time frame.

HOW THE WEST WAS WON: For the first time this season, the Astros own sole possession of first place in the AL West, as they enter tonight’s game 1.0 game up on the Mariners (77-61) and 2.0 games up on the Rangers (76-62)…prior to assuming first place last night, the Astros had either owned a share of first place or been within 1.0 game of first place on every date dating back to Aug. 22.

TONIGHT’S TELECAST: Tonight’s AT&T SportsNet SW telecast will feature Todd Kalas, Mike Stanton and Julia Morales… Stanton is filling in for Geoff Blum, who is under the weather.

TANKS ON TUESDAY: The Astros shellacked the Rangers last night in a 14-1 victory, as Houston’s offense teed off for 20 hits, including six homers…2B Jose Altuve had the game of the night, hitting three solo homers in each of the first 3.0 innings… SS Jeremy Peña (3×6) and DH Yordan Alvarez (3×6, HR, 2RBI) both also had three-hit games, while C Martín Maldonado (2×5) hit a pair of homers in the victory…LHP Framber Valdez (1ER/7IP) returned to dominance en route to the win.

ROAD WARRIORS: The Astros have gone 44-27 (.620) on the road this season, which ranks second in the AL, trailing only the Orioles (45-25, .643)…the Astros have not lost a road series since dropping two of three games at Dodger Stadium from June 23-25…since that weekend, they have had 12 road series, winning 10 and splitting two (including this series).

ROAD STREAKING: The Astros have won a season-high seven straight road games dating back to their victory on Aug. 26 at DET…the Astros also had a seven-game road winning streak in 2022 (Sept. 4-21), but have not won more than seven straight on the road since setting the franchise record with 11 straight road victories from June 7-28, 2018.

THE LAST SEVEN ON THE ROAD: The Astros have won seven straight road games thanks to an offense that has produced 79 runs and 114 hits, while averaging over 11 runs per game, in those contests…the Astros 79 runs and 114 hits over seven consecutive road games are both franchise records, completing blowing away the previous club records of 72 runs and 100 hits in seven-game spans, both reached in the 2017 season… the last Major League team to post 79 runs over a seven-game span on the road were the 1939 Yankees, who topped out with 96 runs over a seven-game span on the road from Aug. 12-24.

HAVE BATS, WILL TRAVEL: The Astros lead the AL in runs (407), HR (113), batting average (.267), OBP (.338), SLG (.456) and OPS (.794) on the road…2B Jose Altuve (.365 BA, 1.123 OPS), DH Yordan Alvarez (17 HR, 1.098 OPS) and RF Kyle Tucker (18 HR, 61 RBI) have led the way in road games.

A PAIR OF 99S: RF Kyle Tucker has hit 99 career home runs and is looking to become the 20th player in franchise history to reach the 100-homer milestone…Tucker also has 99 RBI on the season and is looking for his second career 100-RBI season, also accomplished with 107 RBI in 2022.

JOSE! JOSE! JOSE! JOSE!: 2B Jose Altuve is on an incredible heater over the last three weeks, which all began with him reaching his 2,000th career hit on Aug. 19 vs. SEA…since then, Aluve hit for the cycle for the first time in his career on Aug. 28 at BOS, and has now hit five homers over the last two games (an Astros record), which included a three-homer game last night…below are just a few of his highlights:

  • last night marked Altuve’s first regular season three-homer game, but his second career three-homer game, also doing so in Game 1 of the 2017 ALDS vs. BOS.
  • Altuve homered in his final at-bat on Monday, then homered in his first three at-bats last night, making him the first player in franchise history to homer in four straight at-bats.
  • per STATS, Altuve became the fourth player in MLB history to hit three homers in the first 3.0 innings of a game, most recently done by Manny Machado in 2016…notably, Altuve had hit three home runs last night prior to the Rangers 7-8-9 hitters having their first at-bats of the game.
  • per Sarah Langs, Altuve became the first player in at least the expansion era (since 1961) to homer in four straight innings his team played (including across games).
  • on Monday, Altuve and CF Mauricio Dubón hit two sets of backto-back homers, making the Astros the first team in MLB history to have their No. 9 and No. 1 hitters hit back-to-back homers twice in the same game (STATS).

LAST START – 9/1 VS. NYY: allowed 6 runs on 8 hits through 6.0 innings while striking out 3 batters and surrendering 1 walk…broke a streak of 2 starts (11 IP) without surrendering a run.

JV VS. MAX: tonight will be the first-ever matchup between Verlander and RHP Max Scherzer, two of the most accomplished active pitchers and former teammates in time spent with DET (2010-14) and NYM (2022).

  • tonight’s matchup will be the 1st time 2 pitchers with 200+ wins have faced off since NYY LHP C.C. Sabathia (208 wins) and TOR LHP Mark Buehrle (202 wins) faced each other on May 6, 2015.
  • tonight’s matchup will also be the 1st meeting of starting pitchers with 450+ career starts since PHI LHP Jamie Moyer (575 starts) faced SD RHP Greg Maddux (732 starts) on August 15, 2008, in a game the Phillies won, 1-0.
  • between Verlander and Scherzer, they have combined for the following accomplishments: AL MVP, 6 Cy Young Awards, 17 All-Star selections, 3 World Series Championships and an AL Rookie of the Year.
  • will be the first matchup in which both starters had at last 3,000 strikeouts since NYY RHP Roger Clemens (4,668 strikeouts) and BOS RHP Curt Schilling (3,108) faced each other on Sept. 16, 2007.
  • will be the first starting pitching matchup with as many as 467 combined wins since LAD RHP Greg Maddux (354) and SF LHP Barry Zito (122) faced each other on Sept. 19, 2008 (476 wins).

ABOUT VERLANDER: the future Hall of Famer, 9-time All-Star, 3-time Cy Young Award winner, 2011 AL MVP and 2006 AL Rookie of the Year returned to the Astros rotation in early August after a 3-month stint with the Mets.

  • acquired by Houston on Aug. 1 along with cash considerations in exchange for minor league prospects OF Drew Gilbert and OF Ryan Clifford…marks his second time to be acquired by Houston via trade, which also happened at the waiver trading deadline in 2017…thanks in large part to Verlander, the Astros went on to win the 2017 World Series.
  • has now made 6 starts with the Astros, in which he’s gone 4-2 with a 3.86 ERA (15ER/35IP)…has 3 quality starts in his 6 chances as an Astro.

STRONG STRETCH: his strong stretch spans over his last 13 starts (6 with the Astros)…has gone 8-3 with a 2.56 ERA (22ER/77.1IP) and has held opponents to a .219 (64×292) batting average and a .636 OPS.

JV VS. TEX: will be making his 1st start against the Rangers this year but matched up with the AL West rival frequently during his 6 seasons with the Astros.

  • from 2017-22, Verlander went 11-3 with a 2.57 ERA (30ER/105.0IP) and recorded a .211 opponent’s batting average (81×384) and a .617 opponent’s OPS through 22 starts.
  • will be making his 35th career start vs. TEX and has gone 20-8 with a 2.64 ERA (62ER/211.1IP)and .217 opponent’s batting average (170×785) throughout his career vs. them.
  • his 34 career starts are the most of any active player vs. TEX, with former Astros LHP Dallas Keuchel the next closest with 29 starts…he also leads all active players in wins (20) and strikeouts (236) vs. TEX.
  • Verlander’s 2.64 career ERA ranks 4th all-time of pitchers with at least 200 IP vs. TEX…his 236 strikeouts vs. TEX rank 8th, directly behind Hall-of-Famer Bert Blyleven (238).
  • has made 2 career postseason starts vs. TEX, both coming with DET during the 2011 ALCS…went 1-1 with a 5.56 ERA (7ER/11.1IP) during the starts.
  • will be making just his 2nd start at the newly-opened Globe Life Field…made his 1st start at the venue on April 28 of last season, allowing 1 run and striking out 8 batters through 7.0 innings to pick up the winning decision in a 3-2 Astros victory


WINS AND LOSSES: Texas lost 14-1 to the Astros last night, as club now has a 1-4 record to begin this 9-G, 10-day homestand vs. MIN (1-2), HOU (0-2 + 1 G), and OAK (3 G)…club is 1-5 in last 6 G after winning 3 of previous 4 contests from 8/26-29…club is 4-14 (.222) in last 18 G beg. 8/16, the lowest win pct. in MLB over that span…the 4-14 span began with a season-long 8-G losing streak from 8/16-25, 2nd-longest for Texas since start of ’22 (0-9, 8/27-9/5/22)…club has 76 wins, most since 2019 (78), and an 8-win improvement over 2022 (68)…team has dropped 15 of 21 and is 8-16 since a season-best 8-G win streak (8/1-8), longest for club since going 10-0, 5/9-19/17…have gone 17-20 in last 37 G and 18-23 in last 41 G since a 6-G win streak (7/14-19) out of the break… team is 24-23 (.511) in the 2nd “half”, 7th-best record in the A.L…TEX is 25-25 in last 50, 26-29 in last 55 G, and 27-31 in last 58 G…team was 12-19 over a 31-G span from 6/7-7/9 to end the 1st “half”.

  • At 76-62 (.551), TEX has the 6th-best record in the A.L. (BAL-.630, 87-51; TB-.604, 84-55; HOU-.564, 79-61; SEA- .558, 77-61; TOR-.554, 77-62) & T9th-best in MLB… 76 wins rank 6th in A.L./T9th in MLB (90-ATL, 87-BAL, 84-LAD/TB, 79- HOU, 77-MIL/SEA/TOR, 76-PHI/TEX).
  • The 76-62 mark is the 8th-best 138-G start to a season in Washington/Texas franchise history, best since club-record 82-56 (.594) start in 2016.

STANDINGS: The Rangers are in 3rd place in the A.L. West, for the 6th time in the last 7 days, now a season high-tying 2.0 GB (2x, also 8/2) of 1st-place HOU…this is 7th straight day, and 9th time in last 10 days (beg. 8/27), to not have at least a share of 1st place…club was alone or tied atop the division for 148 of season’s 1st 149 days (3/30-8/26), including sole possession of 1st place for 111 consecutive days from 5/6-8/24…over last 18 games/20 days, TEX has a 4-14 record, falling from a 3.5-G division lead to 3rd at 2.0 GB…club held season-best 6.5-G lead in West after win 6/23 at NYY.

  • Texas currently sits 4th in the A.L. Wild Card standings, 0.5 GB of 3rd-place Toronto…marks 1st time for Rangers to be 4th-or-lower in A.L. WC standings since 4/27 (T4th, 0.5 GB).
  • From 2017-22, TEX had one day in which it held, or was tied for, 1st place in West (1-0 on 7/24/20, T-division lead).

SERIES STUFF: With last night’s loss, the Rangers have now dropped 2 straight and 5 of last 6 series (lone win, 2-1 from 8/28-30 at NYM)…prior to the current 1-5-0 span, club had a 5-0-0 stretch from 8/1-16 that was 2nd-best streak in ’23 (6-0-0, 5/19-6/7)…team is 8-8-0 in series since break… the span follows a 2-6-1 stretch to end the 1st “half”…is 25- 18-2 overall in series in ’23: 13-8-2 at home; 12-10-0 on the road…TEX has lost season-high 3 straight series in Arlington dating back to 8/18, but is still 5-4-0 in home series since the All-Star break.

  • Texas needs a win tonight to avoid losing all games of a series at home for just the 2nd time in 2023 (0-3, 8/18-20 vs. MIL)…club has gone winless in just 4 series of any length this season (last 0-2, 8/21-22 at ARI).

AT HOME: TEX is 43-28 (.606) at home in ’23, 3rd-best in A.L. (TB-.657, 46-24; BAL-.618, 42-26) and 6th-best in MLB…best 71-G home start since 2016 (.676, 48-23)…club is 1-8 over last 9 G in Arlington (including a 6-G losing streak from 8/16-9/2), this after never losing more than 3 in a row at home all year…the 6-G slide followed a GLF record 9-G home win streak from 7/23-8/15.

VS. HOUSTON: Texas is assured of losing the 2023 Lone Star Series for the Silver Boot with a 4-8 record vs. HOU so far this season…2-1, 4/14-16 at MMP; 1-3, 6/30-7/3 at GLF; 1-2, 7/24-26 at MMP; 0-2 + 1 G, 9/4-6 at GLF …TEX is 0-6-1 in season series over past 7 years (5-5 in 2020)…TEX is 5-7 in last 12 G vs. HOU, and has lost 11 of 16, 22 of 31, and 40 of last 41 G (beg. 6/15/21)…TEX leads all-time, 134-131 overall, and is 70-62 in Arlington…club is just 11-18 vs. HOU at GLF, going 5-17 in last 22 G here after a 6-1 start.

ONE FOR THE AGES: Tonight’s contest will feature a starting pitching matchup between two members of the illustrious “3,000 Strikeout Club,” as TEX’s Max Scherzer (3,361 SO) and HOU’s Justin Verlander (3,311 SO) are set to face one another for the 1st time in their respective careers…according to the Elias Sports Bureau, there have been just 22 instances in the regular season of both starting pitchers entering a game with 3,000+ career strikeouts…the last occurance was a duel between NYY’s Roger Clemens (4,668 SO) and BOS’ Curt Schilling (3,108) on 9/16/07 at Fenway Park…though Scherzer is the 5th-ever “3,000 Strikeout Club” member to pitch for Texas (also Nolan Ryan, Bert Blyleven, Gaylord Perry, Fergie Jenkins), this will be the first time the Rangers have ever been involved in one of these matchups.

  • Per ESPN Stats & Info, Scherzer (213) and Verlander’s (254) 467 combined career wins are the most entering a regular season starting pitching matchup since Barry Zito (122) and Greg Maddux (354) on 9/19/08 SF at LAD (476 wins).
  • The Former Mets (2023) and Tigers (2010-14) teammates are each one of 11 pitchers in MLB history to win as many as 3 career Cy Young Awards (both have 3)…the last regular season meeting between a pair of 3-time Cy Young Award winners was Scherzer (L, 6.0 IP, 1 R-ER) vs. Clayton Kershaw (W, 6.0 IP, 0 R) on 4/11/21 WAS at LAD.

HE’S MAD MAX: Max Scherzer has gone 3-1 with a 2.21 ERA (9 ER/36.2 IP), 12 BB/47 SO, .150 opp. BA (19-127) over his first 6 starts with Texas since being acquired via trade with NYM on 7/30…he ranks among A.L. qualifiers since the beginning of August in opp. BA (1st), opp. OPS (1st, .457), WHIP (1st, 0.85), SO/9 (2nd, 11.54), SO (T2nd), and ERA (4th)…according to Stathead, his 2.21 ERA with the Rangers is the 2nd-lowest ever by a pitcher in his first 6 starts for the Washington/Texas franchise, trailing only 1.84 ERA (11 ER/53.2 IP) by Fergie Jenkins over his first 6 starts of the 1974 campaign…Scherzer’s 47 strikeouts with
Texas are also the 2nd-most ever by a Ranger in his first 6 starts for the club (52-Nolan Ryan in 1989).

  • Scherzer is MLB’s active career leader in strikeouts (3,361), ranking 11th on the all-time strikeouts list…he is just 11 K’s away from passing Hall of Famer Greg Maddux (3,371) and moving into 10th-place on the all-time SO leaderboard.

MULTI MARCUS: Marcus Semien went 2-for-4 with a walk last night, plating Texas’ lone run on an RBI single in the 5th inning…was his team-high 45th multi-hit G of 2023, T3rd-most in A.L. and equal to his 2+ hit game total from 2022 (also 45).

  • Semien is batting .383/.473/.533/1.026 (18-47) w/ 2 HR, 2 2B, and 9 RBI in 12 G vs. Houston in ’23, 3rd-highest BA ever by a Ranger vs. HOU in a single season (min. 40 AB) behind only Adrián Beltré (.417) and Elvis Andrus (.391) in 2017.

NOT GREAT: Texas starting pitchers are winless (0-6) in the team’s last 18 G (beg. 8/16), with the last win by a Rangers starter being recorded by Jordan Montgomery on 8/15 vs. LAA (6.0 IP, 1 R-ER)…this stretch marks the longest span without a starter win in club history (prev. 17 G, 6/1-18/13).

CAN’T YA TELL, THIS IS AUSTIN?: C Austin Hedges logged a scoreless 9th inning last night (1.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R), and has now pitched 2 straight and 3 of Texas’ last 13 G (also 8/25 at MIN)…after entering the year with zero outings as pitcher in his 9-year MLB career, Hedges’ 3 mound appearances in 2023 (2.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R-ER, 1 SO, 1 HR) are now a TEX single-season record for a position player (prev. 2, 4x, last Charlie Culberson in 2022)…he now ranks 2nd all-time behind Culberson (4) in career mound app. by a TEX position player.

SHORTS: Marcus Semien is expected to play in his 300th G as a Ranger tonight…TEX is 1-7 in its last 8 series finales… Leody Taveras’ 29 doubles in ’23 are the most by a Ranger as a center fielder since Marlon Byrd in 2009 (32)…Corey Seager’s 1.060 OPS this season would be the highest ever by a qualified TEX batter (prev. 1.050, Rafael Palmeiro in 1999).

TONIGHT’S STARTING PITCHER – #31 Max Scherzer, RHP (12-5, 3.55)
TONIGHT: The 3-time Cy Young Award winner (2013, 2016-17) and 8-time AllStar will make his 7th start with Texas in tonight’s series finale…is slated to face former Mets (2023) and Tigers (2010-14) rotation-mate and fellow “3,000 Strikeout Club” member, Justin Verlander, for the 1st time in their respective careers (additional info on front page)…acquired from the Mets, along with cash considerations, in exchange for INF/OF Luisangel Acuña on 7/30, and added to TEX’s active roster on 8/1…has gone 3-1 with a 2.21 ERA (9 ER/36.2 IP), 12 BB/47 SO, .150 opp. BA (19-127) over his 1st 6 starts w/ TEX…quality starts in 5 of 6 G, and Rangers are 4-2 in his starts…over last 7 starts w/ NYM and TEX, is 4-1, 2.06 (10 ER/43.2 IP) to drop season ERA from 4.20 to 3.55…will pitch on regular 4 days’ rest after tossing 6.0 scoreless frames in Rangers’ 5-1 loss on Fri. vs. MIN (see ‘Last Start’)…Scherzer is MLB’s active leader in career strikeouts (3,361), and is one of only 19 pitchers to reach 3,000+ K’s in MLB history…the 39-year-old is the oldest pitcher to start a game for TEX since Bartolo Colon on 9/5/18 vs. LAA (45 years, 104 days)…also ranks among active ML leaders in win pct. (2nd, .666), SO/9 (2nd, 10.70), wins (3rd, 213), ERA (3rd, 3.13), starts (3rd, 446), innings (3rd, 2826.1), and WHIP (3rd, 1.08)…originally selected by Arizona in the 1st round (11th overall) of the 2006 MLB draft out of the University of Missouri…has spent 16 Major League seasons with ARI (2008-09), DET (2010-14), WAS (2015-2021), LAD (2021), NYM (2022-23), and TEX (2023)…Texas/New York-NL have gone 16-9 in his 25 starts this season (4-2 w/ TEX and 12-7 w/ NYM).

ALL-TIMER: Three pitchers in MLB history have 200+ wins, 3000+ SO, and a WHIP figure below 1.10: Walter Johnson, Pedro Martinez, and Max Scherzer. -Strikeouts: Scherzer is MLB’s active career leader in strikeouts (3,361), ranking 11th on the all-time strikeouts list as one of only 19 players to reach 3,000+ career K’s in MLB history…passed Phil Niekro (3,342) for 11th all-time on 8/20 vs. MIL…next on list is 10th-place Greg Maddux (3,371)…is only the 5th member of the esteemed “3,000 Strikeout Club” to appear for Texas, joining Nolan Ryan (1989-93), Bert Blyleven (1976-77), Gaylord Perry (1975-77, 1980), and Fergie Jenkins (1974-75, 1978-81)…has recorded 9 seasons of 200+ strikeouts, which ranks 5th all-time behind Nolan Ryan (15), Randy Johnson (13), Roger Clemens (12), and Tom Seaver (10)…8/26 at MIN (10 SO) was his 113th career double-digit strikeout game, 3rd-most in MLB history behind only Nolan Ryan (215) and Randy Johnson (212).

-The Wild Card Era: Among pitchers with 1500.0 IP in the Wild Card Era (since 1995), Scherzer ranks 2nd in SO (3,361) to only Randy Johnson (3,545), 4th in WHIP (1.08), 4th in opp. BA (.220) and 6th in ERA (3.13).

LAST START: Fired 6.0 scoreless frames in Rangers’ 5-1 loss on Fri. vs. MIN (ND, 6.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 7 SO, 88 pitches/53 strikes)…exited with Texas leading 1-0 after the 6th inning, but was removed from the decision after Brock Burke surrendered a go-ahead 2-run HR (Jordan Luplow) in the top of the 7th…marked 65th career appearance with 6.0+ SHO IP, breaking tie with HOFer Gaylord Perry (64) for 19th-most such outings in the Modern Era (beg. 1900)…was also his 12th career outing of 6.0+ IP and one-or-zero hits allowed, T5th-most all-time behind only Nolan Ryan (30), Randy Johnson (17), Verlander (17), and Bob Feller (15).

VS. HOUSTON: Scherzer owns a lifetime 5-1 record, 2.98 ERA (20 ER/60.1 IP), and 77 SO/13 BB in 9 games/8 starts vs. Houston, and is undefeated (5-0) in his last 7 G/GS against the Astros…earned win in lone start against ‘Stros this season on 6/19/23 at HOU w/ NYM (W, 8.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R-ER, 1 BB, 8 SO)…held Astros scoreless thru 6.0 IP before allowing solo HR in the 7th (Yainer Diaz).

TEXAS: Is 3-1 with a 2.21 ERA (9 ER/36.2 IP), 12 BB/47 SO, .150 opp. BA (19-127) over his 1st 6 starts w/ TEX…according to Stathead, his 2.21 ERA with Texas is the 2nd-lowest ever by a pitcher in his first 6 starts with the Senators/ Rangers franchise, trailing only 1.84 ERA (11 ER/53.2 IP) by Fergie Jenkins over his first 6 starts of the 1974 campaign…his 47 strikeouts with TEX are also the 2nd-most ever by a Ranger in his first 6 starts with the club (52-Nolan Ryan in 1989)…was just the 3rd pitcher in club history to earn wins in each of his first 3 starts with the team, joining Aaron Sele (1998) and Jamie Moyer (1989)…earned win in TEX debut on 8/3 vs. CWS (6.0 IP, 3 R-ER), as 9 SO in that game weremost in a TEX debut since Jamie Moyer on 4/8/89 vs. TOR (13 SO).

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