It’s the start of an interleague set on the diamond between a pair of sub-.500 teams down in the Lone Star State. The Washington Nationals are on the road as they kick off a three-game series with the Texas Rangers Friday night. Washington split a brief two-game interleague set with the Orioles on the road as they were blanked 7-0 in a game that was shortened by rain Wednesday night. Texas swept a two-game interleague set at home from the Phillies as they earned a 4-2 victory Wednesday afternoon in the finale of that set.
The Rangers swept the last series between the teams, which came in the nation’s capital on June 9-11, 2017.
Washington Nationals Looking to Pick Up Rare Road VictoryWashington saw their two-game win streak end as they lost for the ninth time in 11 games by getting blanked by the Orioles in a rain-shortened tilt. The Nationals entered Thursday in the basement of the NL East, 20.5 games behind the Mets for the top spot. On Wednesday, Washington finished with only three hits with Josh Bell, Cesar Hernandez and Yadiel Hernandez each recording a single in the loss. Patrick Corbin (4-10) saw his rough season continue as he was tagged for three runs on seven hits with one walk and six strikeouts over four innings before departing amidst the deluge of rain.
Paolo Espino is expected to take the hill for the Nationals and make his 23rd appearance and third start of the season in this contest. He comes in 0-1 with a 2.29 ERA, a 1.075 WHIP, eight walks and 27 strikeouts over 35.1 innings of work on the year. In his last outing, Espino didn’t factor in the decision as he started against the Phillies in the second game of a doubleheader at home last Friday. He threw five innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on three hits with four walks and five strikeouts in a game the Nationals dropped 8-7 in 10 innings. In his 72nd career major league appearance and 25th start, he pitches against the Rangers for the first time here. As a result, Espino makes his first career major league appearance at Globe Life Field in this contest as well.
Texas Rangers Trying to Reach .500 On the SeasonTexas swept Philadelphia in a brief two-game interleague set and earned a fourth win in six games to head into this series with momentum. The Rangers went into Thursday second in the AL West, 10 games behind the Astros for the top spot in the division race. On Wednesday, Corey Seager (run) and Kole Calhoun (two RBI) each had two hits in the contest to help the Rangers earn the win. Jon Gray (3-3) earned the win on the mound as he threw 5.2 innings, allowing two runs on four hits with one walk and five strikeouts before departing. Joe Barlow worked a 1-2-3 ninth inning to record his 13th save of the season.
Dane Dunning takes the ball for his 15th start of the year for the Rangers in this contest. He is 1-5 with a 4.38 ERA, a 1.329 WHIP, 28 walks and 70 strikeouts over 76 innings of action on the year. Dunning took the loss in his last start, which came Sunday on the road against the Tigers. He threw 4.2 innings, allowing five runs on four hits with four walks and two strikeouts in a game the Rangers dropped by a 7-3 score. In his last three starts, Dunning is 0-2 with a 5.52 ERA, a 1.57 WHIP, eight walks and seven strikeouts over 14.2 innings of work. This marks his first career outing against the Nationals in his 49th career major league appearance and 47th start. Dunning is 6-4 with a 3.06 ERA, a 1.15 WHIP, 31 walks and 113 strikeouts over 108.2 innings in 21 career appearances, 20 starts, at Globe Life Field.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
These teams are unfamiliar with each other and that means the pitchers have yet to face off against the opposition in their respective careers. With that said, the Nationals have struggled to put together any kind of consistent offensive performances at the plate or on the mound, which is a prime reason the team is buried in the basement of the NL East. Dunning has had his ups and downs this season but the Rangers have played some decent ball of late and are within striking distance of the .500 mark. Washington is a dismal 13-21 on the road and their bullpen has been ground down of late. Give the advantage to the Rangers as they keep rolling and Dunning keeps Washington in check.
Full-Game Total Pick
Washington entered Thursday’s game with the over holding a 37-32-3 advantage in regard to the total this season. The Nationals are 23rd in the majors with an average of 4.06 runs per contest though they are 15th on the road as they put up just 4.41 runs per game as the hosts. Washington has seen an average total of 9.79 runs per game and that number climbs to an average of 10.23 runs per game at home. Texas has seen the under post a 35-29-4 record in 68 games on the year entering this contest. The Rangers are 15th in runs per game with 4.38 runs per contest and that drops to 4.24 runs per game at home on the year. Texas has an average total of 8.69 runs per game and that number stays nearly flat at it sits at 8.68 runs per game at home. With the Nationals having a tough time slowing anyone down offensively, look for this one to wind up going over the total.