With the most productive inning in the major leagues this season backing their latest outburst, the Texas Rangers have been boom or bust at the plate during their homestand.
They might find a big inning a bit harder to come by against Houston’s impressive rookie.
Jarred Cosart looks to continue his strong start on Tuesday night when he tries to lead the Astros to just their third victory in 19 games against the explosive Rangers.
A.J. Pierzynski had a season-high four hits and Leonys Martin added three as AL West-leading Texas (72-53) used an 11-run third inning to take Monday’s opener 16-5.
The last team to score that many runs in an inning was St. Louis, with a 12-run seventh in a 12-0 win over the Chicago Cubs on July 21, 2012. The Rangers, who remain a half-game ahead of Oakland, topped their previous season high in runs set just two days earlier in a 15-3 win over Seattle.
“We went up and down the lineup,” manager Ron Washington said. “When we can do that is when we can be at our best.”
Pierzynski has gone 10 for 17 with two home runs and seven RBIs in his last four games versus the last-place Astros (41-83), while Martin is batting .368 during a 10-game hitting streak against them.
While they’ve totaled five runs and batted .196 in their three losses on this homestand, the Rangers have put up 36 runs and hit .327 in their three victories. Despite two outbursts in three games by Texas, Pierzynski’s home run in the seventh inning Monday was only the team’s second in the past eight.
Texas isn’t likely to break out with the long ball against Cosart (1-0, 1.15 ERA), who has yet to allow a home run in his six starts.
Cosart is also the first pitcher in Astros history to begin his career with six consecutive starts of five-plus innings while allowing two or fewer runs, but he hasn’t received a decision in his last five while being given a total of eight runs of support.
The right-hander put together another strong outing Wednesday, allowing three hits over six shutout frames in a 2-1, 11-inning win at Oakland. He struck out four and only walked one, an improvement after issuing 17 free passes over his previous five starts.
“I’ve been able to miss some more bats, too, so it’s just keeping the ball down in the zone and trying to pitch more instead of just throw,” Cosart told the team’s official website.
Cosart has an 0.67 ERA in four road starts.
Now he’ll attempt to end Houston’s struggles against the Rangers, who have outscored the Astros 124-67 while winning 16 of 18 meetings dating to May 2012.
Texas plans to call up Travis Blackley (1-1, 4.89) to make the start after acquiring him from Houston on Wednesday. He’ll fill in for Alexi Ogando, who has an inflamed nerve in his right shoulder.
Blackley, who made 42 relief appearances for the Astros this season, has gone 6-7 with a 6.00 ERA in 23 career starts. He’ll make his first since allowing one run over six innings in a 3-1 win over the Rangers on Oct. 2 while he was with Oakland.
That came just five days after he was chased after allowing five runs in one inning in Arlington.
The Astros have been swinging the bats well as of late, averaging 6.3 runs while batting .320 over their last four games.
Jason Castro went 2 for 3 in Monday’s opener, leaving him 13 for 25 in his last seven games against Texas.