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Texas Two Step: Rangers, Astros Go at it Again

The Houston Astros have been making MLB baseball news this season, but not in a good way. The defending AL West champions have struggled to start the campaign, and their reward now is another weekend series with the defending World Series champion Texas Rangers.

Houston is off to a 4-10 start and is coming off a three-game road sweep by the Kansas City Royals. After a 10-inning loss in the opener, the Astros lost the next two games by a combined score of 24-5. Not exactly the kind of momentum the team wants going into this weekend.

Texas Two Step: Rangers, Astros Go at it Again
Adolis Garcia #53 of the Rangers steals second base against Jose Altuve #27 of the Astros | Rob Carr/Getty Images/AFP

Texas hasn’t exactly been setting the baseball world on fire at the start of its title defense. The Rangers are just 7-6, though that’s enough to lead the AL West race in the early going. Texas has dropped four of its last five, all at home, so it needs to get things right this weekend.

Weekend Series, Rinse, Repeat

These two division rivals, who played a classic seven-game series in the American League Championship Series last season, already played four times last weekend, splitting the series. Now they square off for three more, with 3½ games separating the first-place Rangers and last-place Astros in the division standings heading into Friday’s opener.

These seven games are part of the 13-game season series between these two rivals, though the next matchups won’t happen until July when things have become a little clearer in the division race. These two teams are nearly neck-and-neck in the MLB odds for the AL West crown, with Houston currently at +150 and Texas at +160.

These two are also among the top MLB picks for the American League pennant, with only the New York Yankees at +375 holding better odds. Houston is at +450 and Texas is tied with the Baltimore Orioles at +600.

Astros Coming Off Ugly Showing

Some of Houston’s latest MLB news was not good, as Houston starting pitcher Hunter Brown got just two outs in Thursday’s game, allowing nine runs on 11 hits. It set an MLB record for most hits allowed without going a full inning.

After taking the final two games of last weekend’s series with the Rangers, the Astros were hoping to get something going with a three-game series against the Royals. Instead, Kansas City dominated thanks to a pair of big innings – a seven-run third in Wednesday’s game and Thursday’s nine-run first.

It’s been the pitching that has been Houston’s problem this season, as it has the third-worst team ERA in baseball at 5.09. The Astros are hitting the ball – ranking first in the American League in hits (131) and tying for first in the AL in batting average (.266) and home runs (17).

But Houston has not been able to put the runs on the board at key times enough, or at least enough to keep up with its struggling pitching staff, which won’t get much of a break this weekend.

Rangers Looking Good, Not Great

Much like their division rival, the Rangers have been very inconsistent in the early going of the 2024 season. Even in a home series against the Oakland Athletics this week, Texas couldn’t put things together, dropping two of three to the perennial basement dweller.

This team made news last season with their run from a Wild Card spot to the world championship, but the Rangers would like to have an easier road in their title defense. That means being more consistent in the regular season, which they’re hoping will come soon.

Getting some wins this weekend would certainly help. The team’s pitching was solid against Oakland, giving up seven runs over the three-game set, but the Rangers managed just one hit in a shutout loss on Thursday. They’ll look for a better showing at the plate against the struggling Astros.

Host Houston Getting Betting Edge

Las Vegas odds for this series favor the Astros to come away with more victories, with Houston listed at -165. Texas is +125, and it would surprise almost no one if it got the series victory.

These two teams will be watching each other all season long, and we’d love to see some of these matchups coming after the campaign’s first month. But this weekend will help one of these teams pick up some positive vibes for the next couple of months before they meet again.

 

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