Texas (29-48) at Houston (41-37)

  • Game info: 8:05 pm EDT Fri Jun 27, 2003
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Texas Rangers continue to wait for Juan Gonzalez to make up his mind as they open up a three-game series against the struggling Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park.

Gonzalez has sat out of Texas’ last three games while considering whether to accept or reject a trade that would send him to the Montreal Expos. The two-time AL MVP said Thursday he will probably wait until Saturday to decide. He was in uniform Thursday during a 13-0 loss to Oakland, but manager Buck Showalter decided against using him.

“I haven’t decided,” Gonzalez said. “It’s my decision. I don’t know.”

Gonzalez and his attorney, Jeff Moorad, met Wednesday with Montreal general manager Omar Minaya, who has a long history with the slugger and traveled to Texas in hopes of persuading him to accept the deal.

The last-place Rangers were expected to receive prospects, possibly three of them, if Gonzalez goes to Montreal. The Expos are in the thick of the NL wild-card race.

With the distraction of Gonzalez sitting on the bench, Texas has won two of its last three games.

“It’s tough to deal with, but you have to separate it,” Rafael Palmeiro said. “Once the game starts, you have to be able to focus on that and play the game.”

The Astros are hoping to get back on track after getting swept three straight by the surging Arizona Diamondbacks.

“You play 162 games,” Houston manager Jimy Williams said. “Our heads are up. We’ve got to keep going, just keep firing, keep feeling good about ourselves.”

The Astros are 10-5 in interleague play, including a three-game sweep of the Rangers in Texas last weekend.

STANDINGS: Rangers - 4th place, 21 1/2 GB, AL West. Astros - 3rd place, 1/2 GB, NL Central.

RANGERS PROBABLE STARTER: Joaquin Benoit (2-3, 5.21 ERA). Benoit allowed two runs and five hits over 5 2-3 innings in a 3-1 loss to Houston on Sunday. Opponents are hitting just .220 against the 25-year-old right-hander.

ASTROS PROBABLE STARTER: Rodrigo Rosario (1-0, 1.50 ERA). Rosario will be making the second start of his career. The 25-year-old right-hander, filling the spot of injured ace Roy Oswalt, allowed just four hits and two runs—one earned—in six innings as the Astros beat the Rangers 9-5 on Saturday.

OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Rangers - Hank Blalock, .336 avg.; Alex Rodriguez, 19 HRs and 7 SBs; Carl Everett, 51 RBIs and 52 runs. Astros - Jeff Kent, .313 avg. and 50 RBIs; Morgan Ensberg, Lance Berkman and Jeff Bagwell, 13 HRs; Berkman, 52 runs; Adam Everett, 6 SBs.

INTERLEAGUE RECORDS: Rangers - 2-13; Astros - 10-5.

STREAKS AND NOTES: Rangers - LHP Ron Mahay was called up Thursday from Triple-A Oklahoma and became the 24th pitcher to appear in a game for the Rangers this season. … Texas has been shut out five times this season after being blanked just six times in 2002. … SS Rodriguez is hitting .315 with three home runs and 14 RBIs in 15 games against Houston. Astros - OF Berkman is batting .293 with three home runs and four doubles in 15 career games against Texas. … LHP Billy Wagner is tied for third in the NL with 21 saves. … 2B Kent was placed on the 15-day disabled list Friday because of tendinitis in his left wrist.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Rangers - 11-25 on the road; Astros - 23-14 at home.

INJURIES: Rangers - INF Herbert Perry (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. Astros - 2B Kent (wrist), 15-day DL; LHP Carlos Hernandez (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Brian Moehler (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Oswalt (groin), 15-day DL; 2B Jose Vizcaino (wrist), 15-day DL.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Benoit SEA vs. R. Rosario TB
8-5 Record 1-0
5.49 ERA 1.13
87 K 6
51 BB 3
1.43 WHIP 1.00