Houston (77-66) at Texas (75-67)
When: Monday, September 14th, 2015
Where: Globe Life Park, Arlington, TX
Time: 8:05 ET
TV: DirecTV 674, 676 Radio: XM 89
Before the season started, many experts thought that the Angels and Mariners would be battling for the American League West in September. Instead, we have the Rangers and Astros, who begin a huge series tonight in Arlington. The Astros have led the division for almost the entire season, but now find themselves only a game and half head of Texas. Houston has tailed off the last few weeks losing 7 of their last 11 and almost getting swept by Anaheim over the weekend. By the way, the Angels are only 4.5 back so don’t count them out especially if the Astros and Rangers split this 4-game series. Back to the Astros. They are in first place for one reason only and that’s pitching. They are third in the majors in ERA and 5th in quality starts. Their hitting statistics are quite strange. They are 27th in batting average, but 10th in runs scored. That’s because they are 2nd in homeruns and 3rd in stolen bases. They seem to rely to heavily on the long ball and that won’t work in the playoff pressure. Scott Kazmir will make his 10th Houston start after coming over from Oakland in July. He started out with two scoreless outings, but has not pitched particularly well since. He’s lost 5 of his last 6 decisions and has an ERA of 4.67 over his last 3 starts.
The Rangers broke out yesterday with 12 runs, their first double-digit total since the middle of August. Prior to this weekend, they were shutout twice in a row in Seattle. They’ve actually been shutout three times in the last 8 games. Still, they’re one of the top hitting teams in the league and they have to be. Their pitching and defense is bad. They’re 25th in ERA and dead last with 103 errors. They are 8-4 against Houston this year including a 3-game sweep they last time they met. Cole Hamels goes for them tonight. He’s finding out that the American League is a lot tougher to face than the N.L. He has a 4.07 ERA in his 7 Texas starts. His last few starts haven’t been terrible, but he’s getting into trouble late I the game. In Philly, it seemed all his struggles were the early innings. He’s prone to the long ball as he gave up 5 in his first two Texas starts, but has not allowed one in his last five. Still, he has a 3-1 record with the Rangers as he gets 5.00 runs a game of support.
As we mentioned earlier, Texas swept the Astros in early August and seem to be playing better than them right now. The Astros are a dreadful 29-42 on the road this year. The pitching matchup favors Texas tonight. Hamels should get a bunch of strikeouts.
Pick: Rangers -125