However, starter Jordan Lyles' struggles to keep the ball in the park may give the Rangers a leg up in retaining the Silver Boot on Sunday when they conclude a three-game series with the Astros.
Among the bottom third of teams when it comes to going deep, the Astros had a season-high three homers in Saturday's 6-5 come-from-behind victory to raise their season total to 29. It was Houston's first multihomer game in two weeks, and marked just the fourth time in 35 home games versus Texas that it hit three in one contest.
"We've been scrapping like that all year regardless of the score,'' said Justin Maxwell, whose fifth-inning two-run shot gave Houston (18-22) the lead for good. "If we get behind early, the guys know they have to put together good at-bats to get us back in the ball game.''
Having Lyles (0-0, 3.00 ERA) take the mound may mean the Astros will need to rally again. The right-hander gave up three runs - all scoring on two home runs - and six hits in six innings at Philadelphia on Tuesday, but Houston came back before eventually losing 4-3 in 10 innings.
Lyles went 0-1 with a 5.54 ERA in two starts against Texas in a seven-day span last year - serving up three home runs among his 17 hits allowed in 13 innings - but is still looking forward to facing a daunting Rangers lineup that has 60 homers, tied with the New York Yankees for second-most in the majors.
"It's going to be fun," Lyles, who has given up 17 homers over 106 innings in his career, told MLB.com. "I guess it's the best lineup in the game right now. Every pitcher wants to face those guys, and I'm excited and ready for it."
Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz and Michael Young have all taken Lyles deep, with Hamilton going 3 for 6.
That trio, however, was limited to two singles in 11 at-bats Saturday as the Rangers (25-16) lost for the fourth time in six games.
"We still (were) within striking distance,'' manager Ron Washington said, lamenting an eighth-inning threat that failed to produce any runs. "We had opportunities. We just didn't cash it in.''
Probable Rangers starter Colby Lewis (3-3, 3.63) again tries to recapture his early-season form as he attempts to avoid losing his fourth consecutive start. Lewis was undone by both his pitching struggles and his own defensive play Tuesday, when his two errors in the first two innings contributed to a 5-0 deficit in an eventual 7-4 defeat to Kansas City. He allowed seven runs - two earned - and eight hits in 5 2-3 innings.
Lewis is 0-3 with a 6.52 ERA in May, giving up 19 runs and 23 hits over 19 1-3 innings. Facing the Astros, though, may benefit the right-hander, who went 1-0 in two starts last year while limiting them to two runs and nine hits in 13 2-3 innings and striking out 14.
Should the Astros win this game, they will have to win two of three in Texas from June 15-17 to claim the Silver Boot for the first time since 2006.
- Houston Astros
- Jordan Lyles