Rangers-Astros Preview


The Texas Rangers are tied for the worst record in baseball, but an offensive barrage has them finding some success on the road.

The Rangers will try to put together another impressive display at the plate as they look for a second straight win over the Houston Astros on Saturday night.

Texas (53-81) and Colorado are level for the worst record in the majors, but the Rangers have won four of six games as they attempt to avoid that distinction. They'd also like to avoid finishing at the bottom of the AL West for the first time since 2007, but they're three games back of Houston (57-79) for fourth.

Texas gained some ground Friday, collecting 16 hits with four doubles and two homers in a 13-6 win over the Astros. That was a tremendous improvement after getting eight hits - seven singles - in a 4-2 defeat in the opener of this four-game set at Minute Maid Park.

Rookie Michael Choice is looking to build on the best offensive showing of his career, going 3 for 4 with a double and a three-run homer. The left fielder had been 0 for 10 with four strikeouts while being hit by a pair of pitches in his three prior games since being recalled from Triple-A Round Rock.

"He just needs to relax and trust his abilities," manager Ron Washington said of Choice, who is hitting .179 in 73 games this season. "Let the ball travel like he did and do his best to put the bat head on it instead of trying to force things."

Another big performance at the plate may be needed after the Rangers scratched Miles Mikolas from his scheduled start with shoulder fatigue.

Robbie Ross Jr. (2-5, 6.06 ERA) is expected to be recalled from Round Rock for a spot start. The left-hander was hammered for six runs in 4 1-3 innings of a 6-3 loss to Tampa Bay in his most recent start for Texas on Aug. 14.

Since then, he's allowed two runs in 12 2-3 innings in three minor league games - one start.

He's 2-0 while allowing two runs in 8 2-3 innings over eight relief appearances versus Houston.

The Astros, losers of five of seven, are expected to counter with Scott Feldman (7-10, 4.34), who has reportedly cleared waivers and could be dealt ahead of Sunday's waiver trade deadline.

"I did see that, but when I'm pitching I don't really think about it," Feldman told MLB's official website. "Human nature, you wonder what's going to happen. When I'm playing, I'm just thinking about the guy that I'm facing. We'll see what happens."

Feldman's recent performances at home could be making things easier for Houston to swing a deal. He's 2-1 with a 2.45 ERA over his last four starts at Minute Maid Park, and was solid again despite being charged with Monday's 8-2 loss to Oakland. The righty didn't get any run support while allowing three runs in seven innings.

Feldman, who spent his first eight seasons with Texas, is 1-0 with a 3.44 ERA in three starts against his former team this year. He earned an 8-3 win in the most recent at home Aug. 9, giving up three runs in 6 1-3 innings.