Wade Miller struggled with injuries and inconsistency before facing Texas last year. He shut down the Rangers and went on to finish strong.
Miller will look to get a similar boost when the Houston Astros open a weekend interleague series with the Rangers at The Ballpark in Arlington.
After beginning last season 0-2 with a 7.92 ERA in his first five starts, Miller went 15-2 with a 2.45 ERA in his last 21 outings. He faced Texas in the second start of that stretch and limited them to three hits over seven innings in Houston’s 4-0 win on June 15, 2002.
The 26-year-old right-hander was 1-5 with a 5.40 ERA after nine starts this season, before winning three of his next four outings and lowering his ERA nearly a run. However, he gave up five runs and seven hits over seven innings in a 5-3 loss to the New York Yankees on June 10.
Miller then allowed two runs and seven hits against Boston in the Astros’ 3-2, 14-inning loss on Sunday.
The Astros are coming off a 4-2 loss to Arizona on Thursday, giving them losses in seven of their last nine games and in three straight series.
The struggling Rangers have lost four straight, including a three-game sweep by Oakland. Texas lost the finale 9-2 Thursday, dropping to 2-14 in June.
The Rangers also narrowly avoided losing slugging shortstop Alex Rodriguez to a major injury.
Oakland’s Mark Ellis was stealing second, and arrived ahead of the throw from catcher Todd Greene. As Ellis slid in, Rodriguez turned his face and dropped his glove as if to make the tag, but the ball hadn’t arrived yet.
The ball struck Rodriguez in the nose. He had a bloody nose and was tended to on the field by trainer Jamie Reed before leaving the game.
“It hit me pretty square into the right nostril,” a groggy Rodriguez said after the game. “It was really blurry. I remember Jamie asking me a few questions. I was in a daze.”
Rodriguez told manager Buck Showalter he was OK, and is expected to play in this game.
STANDINGS: Astros - 3rd place, 1 1/2 GB, NL Central. Rangers - 4th place, 20 1/2 GB, AL West.
ASTROS PROBABLE STARTER: Miller (4-7, 4.70 ERA). Miller is 3-3 with a 5.25 ERA in nine career interleague starts.
RANGERS PROBABLE STARTER: John Thomson (4-8, 5.65 ERA). The right-hander was hit hard in his last start, giving up seven runs and 11 hits over 3 2-3 innings in a 10-4 loss to Florida on Sunday. He is 2-2 with an 8.37 ERA in four starts against the Astros.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Astros - Jeff Kent, .313 avg. and 50 RBIs; Morgan Ensberg, 13 HRs; Lance Berkman, 48 runs; Adam Everett, 6 SBs. Rangers - Hank Blalock, .332 avg.; Juan Gonzalez, 18 HRs and 50 RBIs; Carl Everett, 50 runs; Rodriguez, 7 SBs.
INTERLEAGUE RECORDS: Astros - 7-5; Rangers - 2-10.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Astros - 2B Kent was scratched from Thursday’s lineup due to a sore left wrist. … Kent, who has 242 career homers, is two shy of Joe Gordon for fourth place on the all-time list for second basemen. … RHP Rodrigo Rosario, called up to fill the spot of injured RHP Roy Oswalt, will be the 10th starting pitcher the Astros have used when he starts Saturday. Only four other teams in the majors—San Diego and Tampa Bay with 12 each, and Texas and Arizona with 11—have used more this season. Houston used 11 all of last season. Rangers - RF Gonzalez was held out of the lineup Thursday after feeling tightness in his left groin and leaving the previous night’s game in the eighth inning. … LHP Mario Ramos was recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma on Thursday to make his major league debut. He took the loss, giving up four runs in 3 2-3 innings. … 1B Rafael Palmeiro is 4-for-8 with a double and homer against RHP Miller.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Astros - 15-20 on the road; Rangers - 16-18 at home.
INJURIES: Astros - LHP Carlos Hernandez (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Brian Moehler (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Oswalt (groin), 15-day DL. Rangers - INF Herbert Perry (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Joaquin Benoit (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Chan Ho Park (oblique), 15-day DL; RHP Jeff Zimmerman (elbow), 60-day DL; OF Rusty Greer (neck), 60-day DL.