Rangers-Astros Preview


Though the Texas Rangers own the worst record in the majors, they've managed to play well of late.

Trying for a fourth win in five games, the visiting Rangers look to halt Collin McHugh's August success with the Houston Astros on Thursday night.

After Texas (52-80) avoided being swept by AL Central-leading Kansas City with a 3-1 victory Sunday, it took two of three from wild-card contending Seattle this week. Twenty-year-old Rougned Odor became the youngest player to hit a grand slam since Jose Reyes in 2003, and Leonys Martin hit a two-run shot in a 12-4 rout Wednesday.

Texas managed four hits in Tuesday's 5-0 loss to the Mariners and totaled 11 runs in its previous five contests.

"You never know what happens in this game," manager Ron Washington told MLB's official website. "I wish it was that easy to predict, but you have to play."

Martin is batting .440 in his last 14 games, but he's 3 for 22 with seven strikeouts in six at Houston this season.

Texas snapped a seven-game losing streak to the Astros (56-78) with a 6-2 victory at Minute Maid Park on Aug. 10.

The Rangers will get their first look at McHugh (6-9, 3.02 ERA), who is 2-0 with a 1.76 ERA in five starts this month. The right-hander allowed a run in each of those first four outings and gave up two in 5 1-3 innings of a 3-2 loss at Cleveland on Saturday.

"Ideally, you'd like to have a better mix of pitches and I didn't really have my curveball," McHugh said. "You battle with what you got."

Texas counters with Nick Tepesch (4-8, 4.45), who is 2-0 with a 3.31 ERA and has struck out 25 over 16 1-3 innings in three starts against the Astros. He allowed a run, two hits and fanned eight in 5 1-3 innings of a 5-4 defeat at Houston on May 14.

The right-hander allowed four runs in 19 2-3 innings while going 1-0 in his first three starts this month, then gave up six over 6 1-3 of a 6-3 loss to Kansas City on Saturday.

Chris Carter is 1 for 7 with four strikeouts against Tepesch, but he's homered in three straight games for the first time in his career while going 4 for 13 with six RBIs. He hit his 33rd home run Wednesday as the Astros lost for the fifth time in seven games, 5-4 to Oakland.

Texas' Alex Rios sat out Wednesday to rest a sore thumb. The banged-up veteran outfielder is batting .155 with no homers and nine RBIs in 20 games this month, but the Rangers have no immediate plans to shut him down as they did with Yu Darvish and Shin-Soo Choo, who are dealing with elbow issues.

"That would be ideal to make it better," Rios said. "But even with this I can do a little bit. I like being on the field, and playing in pain is something you have to do. I like being on the field and challenging myself."