Rogers is 4-0 over his last four starts, not allowing a run and yielding a total of 18 hits in that span. He notched his first shutout of the season with a six-hitter in Saturday’s 4-0 win at Minnesota.
“I think he’s throwing the ball awesome,” said Rangers pitching coach Orel Hershiser, who set the major league record with 59 consecutive scoreless innings in 1988. “It’s exciting to watch. … He’s not even breaking a sweat.”
Rogers needs to pitch a shutout Friday to tie his club record of 39 straight scoreless innings, set in 1995.
“We all want to keep that streak going as long as possible,” Texas shortstop Michael Young said. “Defensively, we want to make the plays that will enable Kenny to keep it going.”
Texas and Houston began playing in 2001, and the Astros lead the series 14-10. The teams split six games last season.
“You’ve got the two big cities in Texas going against each other and there’s a lot of pride involved,” Texas first baseman Mark Teixeira said. “You’ve got more fans in the stands and a lot of energy there. As players, we feed off that. People from Houston will be coming and our fans will be coming. I think the fans will have a lot of fun with it.”
The Rangers are hoping to improve their 9-12 home mark as they start a nine-game homestand. Texas completed a 3-3 road trip with back-to-back losses to the Chicago White Sox.
“I think we’ll start playing well at home as the year goes on,” Texas manager Buck Showalter said. “I think we’ll see that thing sort itself out.”
Texas is being carried by the hot bats of Hank Blalock and Alfonso Soriano. Blalock is batting .326 (14-for-43) during a 10-game hitting streak and Soriano is hitting .321 at home with seven homers and 15 RBIs.
Houston enters with the worst road record in the majors at 2-16. The Astros suffered a 6-1 loss to Arizona on Thursday to complete a 3-4 homestand.
With the designated hitter at their disposal, the Astros are hoping the extra batter will boost their struggling offense. Outfielder Lance Berkman, who has been bothered by knee problems, will likely serve as the DH with Orlando Palmeiro joining Jason Lane and Willy Taveras in the outfield.
Astros manager Phil Garner believes his experience managing Detroit from 2000-02 will make it easier for him to manage interleague games in AL parks.
“You don’t manage,” Garner said. “You babysit. You’re just trying to figure out when (the pitcher) is one pitch away from a three-run homer.”