Series Preview: Rangers/Astros

Houston is a baseball town that in recent years hasn't been a stranger to the miraculous second half runs. The Rangers, who are in town this weekend, could certainly use some pointers. Lone Star Dugout takes a look at the first three games of the Lone Star Series.

Rangers (15-26) at Houston Astros (20-20)

Friday, 7:05 PM: Robinson Tejeda (3-3, 4.87) vs. Matt Albers (1-2, 5.47)

Robinson Tejeda has pitched just once in the past two weeks thanks to muscle soreness in his pitching arm and some buggy hamstring issues. Overall this season, right-handers have only hit .210 off him, but lefties are burning him up to a tune of a .301 average. Tejeda had a lot of velocity on his stuff his last time out against the Yankees, but was very iffy with his changeups and breaking balls. The righty has faced the Astros once in his career, giving up one run in five innings with six strikeouts on May 19th of last year. He'll be opposed by youngster and now proud papa Matt Albers, who was scratched from his scheduled start on Wednesday after his wife went into labor. Albers was called-up from Triple-A Round Rock on April 20th after another Houston starter, Jason Jennings, went down with an injury. His best start came back on May 5th when he threw 7 1/3 innings of shutout ball against the Cardinals and picked up the win. However, that game was sandwiched in-between two absolutely horrid starts against division rival Cincinnati in which Albers gave up a total of 13 runs in just over five innings pitched.

Saturday, 6:05 PM: TBA vs. Wandy Rodriguez (1-3, 4.33)
Willie Eyre appeared to be the leading candidate to get the call in this game, but after being used in Thursday night's walk-off loss to the Devil Rays he apparently won't be the starter. It'll likely come down to either Mike Wood or John Koronka, both of whom are currently at Triple-A Oklahoma. Meanwhile, Wandy Rodriguez was able to snap an 18 game winless streak last Sunday with a win against the Arizona Diamondbacks. In that game, he was able to hold Arizona batters to just four hits but often. However, he had trouble putting guys away and was yanked after throwing 93 pitches in just five innings. Interestingly enough, Rodriguez won his last start against the Rangers in a 9-5 victory at Rangers Ballpark this past July - his last win before Sunday.

Sunday, 1:05 PM: Brandon McCarthy (3-4, 6.51) vs. Woody Williams (1-5, 5.10)
Lately, the turnaround of Brandon McCarthy is one of the best stories to come out of an otherwise dreadful looking season. In his last three starts, McCarthy is 2-0 with a 2.60 earned run average. But while his command is seemingly improving with each start, he needs to learn to become more economical with his pitches. In his last start, it took him 110 pitches to get through six innings against Tampa Bay. It's still a much different story on the road for McCarthy, where he's 1-3 with a very devilish looking 6.66 ERA. After a rocky start, Woody Williams has turned in four straight quality starts for the Astros and picked up his first win of the season on May 9th against the Cincinnati Reds. He also helped out his own cause in that game with a tie-breaking solo homerun. But Williams has been dealing with a cranky shoulder that's already required one cortisone shot earlier this season. He also doesn't strike out a lot of batters and has just 19 in 54 2/3 innings of ball.

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