Preview: Astros at Rangers
The Texas Rangers are struggling mightily in September and in danger of missing the playoffs after entering the month with one of the best records in the American League. The Rangers, who host the Houston Astros for a three-game series starting Monday, finished August with a 78-56 record, led the AL West and had only two fewer victories than AL-best Boston. However, Texas has scored an AL-low 67 runs en route to a 5-15 record in September to drop 1 ½ games behind Cleveland for the second wild-card spot.
The Rangers saw their slim hopes of catching Oakland in the West dashed with their extra-inning 4-0 loss to Kansas City on Sunday but could get back on track if they continue their recent success against league-worst Houston. Since losing to the Astros in the season opener, Texas won 14 of the next 15 meetings - including eight straight. The Astros (51-105) have dropped a season-high nine in a row and are two losses away from matching the franchise record they set last season.
TV: 8:05 p.m. ET, CSN (Houston), FSN Southwest (Texas)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Astros RH Jordan Lyles (7-8, 5.26 ERA) vs. Rangers LH Derek Holland (9-9, 3.48)
Lyles was tagged for nine runs - seven earned - in only 3 1/3 innings of a 10-0 home loss to Cincinnati on Tuesday following a three-start stretch in which he was 1-1 with a 3.44 ERA. The 22-year-old has endured similar results versus the Rangers - giving up eight runs over four innings in his only start against them earlier this season - and is 0-4 with an 8.54 ERA in five career outings. However, Lyles has been substantially better on the road (3-2, 3.61 ERA) than at home (4-6, 6.60).
Suffering through one of the worst stretches of his career, Holland fell to 0-3 with a 5.08 ERA in his last eight starts after Wednesday's tough-luck loss in Tampa Bay. The North Carolina native settled for a no-decision despite allowing two runs and six hits over six frames but halted a three-start losing streak. Holland has made five career starts versus the Astros, going 1-1 with a 4.80 ERA.
1. Texas 3B Adrian Beltre, who is 6-for-15 lifetime against Lyles, is batting .444 with five homers and 13 RBIs in his last 14 games versus the Astros.
2. Houston has scored 14 runs and is hitting .136 with runners in scoring position during its losing streak.
3. The Rangers have been shut out three times and scored fewer than three runs on eight occasions in September.
PREDICTION: Rangers 7, Astros 2