Texas Rangers (+140) at Houston Astros (-150, 8 o/u)
The Texas Rangers (42-46, 26-20 Away) and Houston Astros (49-42, 28-16 Home) will kick off the second half of their seasons with a Lone Star State match-up tomorrow at Minute Maid Park (8:10 PM Eastern).
For the Rangers, the All-Star break provided an opportunity to at least momentarily stop their tailspin: they lost eight of ten games before the respite after entering July two games above .500. This inter-state rivalry could be just what they need to reignite the team as the Rangers came into Houston in early May and swept the ‘Stros in a three-game set.
Texas will send left-hander Martin Perez (4.13 career ERA) to the mound for his first start in over 14 months. Perez, who’s returning from Tommy John surgery, last pitched in the bigs on May 10, 2014, and didn’t throw more than 80 pitches in any of his rehab starts. The 24-year-old will have a well rested bullpen behind him, but he’ll still need to bring his best stuff against an Astros team that is sixth in the majors in runs scored against lefties.
The Astros will counter with Collin McHugh (9-5, 4.50 ERA), who has been solid on the year but lost his last two decisions. McHugh has faced the Rangers once this season, going six innings, giving up one run, and fanning four to get the win in this first start of the year.
The Texas order will look different in this matchup, though, most notably because of the return of Josh Hamilton. While Hamilton is always a threat to go deep, he isn’t inspiring the same fear in pitchers that he used to. The troubled outfielder has failed to provide much of an offensive spark since his return to the Rangers a few weeks ago, hitting just .214 with the club.
The Astros should be able to get after Perez in his first start back, but McHugh hasn’t exactly been an ace this season, either. Expect a few long balls to be smacked in a game that should hit the over.
(Photo Credit: EricEnfermero (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.)
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