The worst team in the American League West will go on the road to face the best team in the division on Friday night. Texas has had a miserable season and has yet to win a game in the second half of the season—this story was published prior to its game on Thursday. Houston holds a three-game lead in the AL West and is coming off a series win against Cleveland.
Rangers continue losing gamesTexas is opening the second half of the season with a lengthy road trip. It started with a trip to face Toronto, who picked up a three-game sweep. Things did not get any better in Detroit, where the Tigers won the first three games of the series. The teams were set to conclude their series on Thursday afternoon, but this story was published prior to that game. Texas now plays three games in Houston before finally returning home. The Rangers are 22.5 games back of the Astros in the AL West. Their offense has been awful, listed at No. 27 in the MLB with a team batting average of .228.
wonDAHLful 🎯 pic.twitter.com/gf8MxZGdQj— Texas Rangers (@Rangers) July 22, 2021
Third baseman Isiah Kiner-Falefa leads the team with 97 hits and a .256 average. Right fielder Adolis Garcia has 87 hits, while first baseman Nate Lowe has 84. Center fielder Joey Gallo has cranked a team-high 24 home runs. They will be facing a Houston pitching staff that is ninth in the majors with a team ERA of 3.65. Southpaw Kolby Allard is set to make the start for Texas. He allowed five runs across 5.1 innings against Toronto in his last start. Allard now has a 4.06 ERA through 68.2 innings this season. The 23-year-old has a 62-14 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Astros looking to extend AL West leadHouston has been leading the AL West for several months, but it does not have a ton of wiggle room. Oakland is just three games back and Seattle continues to hang around (6.5 GB). The Astros opened the second half of the season with a blockbuster series against AL Central-leading Chicago, where the White Sox won two out of three. Houston responded with a series win against Cleveland earlier this week before having the day off on Thursday. The Astros have the top-ranked offense in baseball, hitting at a .266 clip.
First baseman Yuli Gurriel leads the team with 104 hits and a .315 average. Left fielder Michael Brantley has 100 hits, while second baseman Jose Altuve has added 95. Altuve has hit a team-best 23 homers this season. Remarkably, the Astros have seven regular starters batting at .270 or better. They will be facing a Texas pitching staff that is No. 24 with a team ERA of 4.72. Jake Odorizzi is expected to start for Houston on Friday. He lasted just 3.1 innings in his last start, allowing four runs against the White Sox. Outside of that, he has pitched well since returning from a forearm injury. Odorizzi has a 2.29 ERA across his last 39.1 innings, but he did walk a season-high four batters his last time out.
- 0-7 in Allard's last seven starts with four days of rest
- 0-5 in its last five games vs. a team with a winning record
- 0-4 in Allard's last four starts vs. a team with a winning record
- 4-1 in its last five games vs. the AL West
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
Bettors are going to have to lay some juice on the Houston run-line in this game, but it is the only pick that makes sense. Texas has been dealt a brutal schedule to open the second half of the season, going on a lengthy road trip. The Rangers had to play on Thursday, while Houston had the day off at home. Then there is the obvious factor—these teams are complete opposites in the division standings. Look for Houston to play the bully role against a team that seems incapable of tallying wins right now.
Full-Game Total Pick
I want no part of the under in a game where Houston’s top-ranked offense is facing a mediocre pitcher. The Astros have seven starters hitting at a .270 clip or better, which is just a remarkable feat. Allard allowed five runs in his last outing and has been average throughout the season. Texas has now gone over the total in six of its last seven Friday games. The Rangers have enough offense to score against Odorizzi and help get this game over the total.