Astros-Rangers Preview


Like most teams, the Texas Rangers have beat up on the major league-worst Houston Astros.

Unfortunately for them, they only have one meeting left.

Hoping to keep pace in the wild-card chase, the Rangers go for an 11th consecutive win over the visiting Astros, who try to avoid setting a new single-season franchise record for losses in Wednesday night's series finale.

Geovany Soto went 2 for 3 with an RBI and Adrian Beltre snapped a 23-game homerless drought in Tuesday's 3-2 win, helping Texas (86-71) remain one game behind Cleveland for the AL's second wild-card spot with five to play.

"Huge win," Joe Nathan told MLB's official website after earning his 41st save. "We did what we need to do to take care of business in this clubhouse and in this ballpark. We just need to do what we can to keep pace and keep the pressure on them. We did it today and we need to come back tomorrow and do it again"

The Rangers have clubbed 24 homers in taking 16 of 18 from Houston (51-107) this year, their most wins against one team in a single season. Texas has taken 10 straight in the series by a 67-28 margin.

"Every game we play now is going to be so important," said Beltre, who leads the league with 193 hits. "We have no place for mistakes. We have to try and win every game. Now we're kind of hoping that we win and they lose so we can sneak in. There's no tomorrow for us. Today was huge."

The Astros have also been outscored 62-16 during a season-worst 11-game losing streak overall. Their 107th defeat matched the franchise record set last year.

Manager Bo Porter's club could be in for another long day at the plate against Martin Perez (9-5, 3.54 ERA), who struck out a career-high eight while throwing a four-hitter in a 6-1 win at Houston on Aug. 11.

"I just want to finish strong, do the same things I did before: relax, be aggressive and attack the hitters," Perez said. "We know we have to win. That's what I want to do - win and compete. These games are just too important. I just need to win."

Tied for second among AL rookies in wins and third with 112 innings, the left-hander allowed one run in 5 2-3 innings but didn't factor in the decision of a 2-1 loss at Kansas City on Friday.

The Astros counter with Dallas Keuchel (6-9, 4.99). The southpaw had surrendered a combined 11 runs and 20 hits in his previous two starts spanning nine innings before throwing seven innings of one-run ball Thursday in a 2-1, 11-inning loss at Cleveland.

"Any time you can limit a good team that's pushing for the playoffs, that's big," he said. "I knew coming in I had to be conscious of throwing the fastball early. ... We had a good game plan going in, and it was about execution."

Keuchel had compiled a 2.81 ERA in three starts against the Rangers before surrendering six runs in 8 2-3 innings losing to Perez last month. Elvis Andrus is 2 for 12 in their matchups.

Keuchel will need to be careful against Beltre, who is batting .424 with six homers, 15 RBIs and 15 runs in his last 16 games in the series.

Alex Rios, who hit for the cycle in Monday's 12-0 rout, stole his career-high 40th base Tuesday. He is batting .405 during a 10-game stretch against the Astros.

Houston's Jose Altuve ranks third in the majors with a .374 average this month.