The Rangers and Astros meet for the first time in 2017 beginning Monday night at Minute Maid Park. It’s a four-game series, the first of 19 inter-division showdowns. It’s no secret the Rangers have dominated the series the past two seasons, compiling a 28-10 record in the span. The Rangers have outscored the Astros 200 to 150 in the past 38 games. It has played a significant role in the Rangers’ consecutive American League West titles. Texas was 15-4 against Houston in ’16 but 32-25 against the rest of the division.
The Astros, however, are playing much better baseball this season and enter the series atop the West at 16-9. They have feasted on the other teams in the West so far, going 12-4. But they haven’t yet played the Rangers. Did I mention that?
“We’ve had some pretty spirited games,” said Rangers manager Jeff Banister, who grew up south of Houston. “They’ve got some guys over there now, they’re a better team.”
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The Rangers could alter their rotation, according to Banister. After Yu Darvish threw a season-high 126 pitches in his last start, the club could slide A.J. Griffin back in the rotation on Thursday, pushing Darvish to Friday’s opener in Seattle.
Banister said the proximity of the clubs has helped make for a spirited rivalry.
“We know when we’re going into Minute Maid that it’s a sporting hostile environment. They know when they come into Globe Life it’s the same,” he said. “And that’s what makes it fun. It adds to the energy of the game. All the plays are amplified, the at-bats are amplified.”
The series details
Monday: RHP Andrew Cashner (0-2, 2.93) vs. RHP Lance McCullers (2-1, 4.34), 7:10 p.m. (TV: FSSW)
Tuesday: LHP Cole Hamels (2-0, 3.03) vs. EHP Mike Fiers (0-1, 5.12), 7:10 p.m, (TV: FSSW)
Wednesday: RHP Nick Martinez or RHP A.J. Griffin vs. RHP Charles Morton (2-2, 4.50), 7:10 p.m. (TV: FSSW)
Thursday: RHP Yu Darvish (3-2, 2.79) vs. RHP Joe Musgrave (1-2, 4.88), 1:10 p.m. (TV: FSSW)