The baseball rivalry in the Lone Star state has been pretty one-sided in 2009.
Since these teams started meeting in 2001, neither club has swept the season series. This could be the year for that to change as Texas (36-27) has been dominant in winning the first four meetings to retain the Silver Boot Trophy for the third straight season.
“I have confidence in the fact that he’s been there before and he’ll get out of it,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “I just hope tonight is the night that got him back going.”
The lone bright spot for Houston (29-33) was Ivan Rodriguez’s(notes) solo homer in the fifth inning in his 2,226th career game at catcher, tying Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk for most games behind the plate in baseball history.
It was a special moment for Rodriguez since it came against the team with whom he spent his first 12 big league seasons.
“I’m very pleased. It’s an unbelievable record to tie Carlton Fisk. I respect him a lot,” said Rodriguez, who got a loud ovation. “It was nice to hear that.”
The Rangers should get a boost with Matt Harrison(notes) (4-4, 5.43 ERA) returning to their rotation after being out since May 25 with an inflamed shoulder. The 23-year-old left-hander made two rehab starts with Double-A Frisco, allowing two earned runs over seven innings in those games.
Harrison, who is limiting left-handed hitters to a .185 batting average, went 0-2 with a 10.80 ERA in his last two starts after winning four straight outings with two straight complete games to finish that stretch.
The veteran right-hander returned to the rotation Thursday for the first time since May 7 and allowed three hits over 5 1-3 scoreless innings against the Chicago Cubs in a 2-1, 13-inning win.
“I didn’t fall behind too much and that allowed me to stay aggressive,” Ortiz told the Astros’ official Web site. “These guys are very good hitters and they have a lot of guys who have pop, so you have to make your pitches and that’s all I’ve been trying to do lately.”
Ortiz has never started against the Rangers, but has pitched 8 1-3 scoreless innings of relief versus them, including five innings this season. Texas designated hitter Andruw Jones(notes), however, is 10 for 24 (.417) in his career against Ortiz.