Texas Rangers (65-66 SU, 73-58 RL, 60-68-3 O/U) vs. Houston Astros (79-52 SU, 67-64 RL, 67-56-8 O/U)
MLB: Thursday, August 31, 2017, Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida, 1:10 pm ET
Lines: Houston -131, Texas +118; Over/Under: 8.5
It’s the conclusion of a series between a pair of AL West rivals from the Lone Star State playing in the Sunshine State thanks to Hurricane Harvey. The Texas Rangers close a three game series with the Houston Astros in a set relocated to Tropicana Field Thursday afternoon. Texas rolled to a 12-2 win in the opening game of the series Tuesday night. The pitching matchup for Wednesday’s middle game of the series saw Andrew Cashner pitch for the Rangers against Houston’s Dallas Keuchel. First pitch in that contest was scheduled for 7 pm ET.
Texas Rangers Look to Pick Up Series Win
Texas snapped a three game losing skid as they rolled over Houston in the opening game of this series. The Rangers entered Wednesday three games behind the Twins for the second wild card spot in the American League. Texas was led by Elvis Andrus (three runs, RBI), who had four hits in the game, while Shin-Soo Choo (three runs, four RBI) and Adrian Beltre (three RBI) each contributed three hits. Joey Gallo (his 36th) and Choo (his 17th) each homered in the victory. Martin Perez (10-10) benefitted from the offensive support as he threw seven innings, allowing two runs on eight hits with two walks and four strikeouts, to get the win.
Cole Hamels makes his 18th start of the season for the Rangers. He missed nearly two months earlier this season with a strained oblique. Hamels is 9-2 with a 3.78 ERA, a 1.149 WHIP, 36 walks and 67 strikeouts over 109.2 innings of work. He took the loss in his last start, which was Saturday on the road against the A’s. Hamels tossed 4.1 innings, allowing six runs on nine hits with three walks and two strikeouts in an 8-3 Rangers defeat. He is 2-1 with a 6.23 ERA, a 1.73 WHIP, 10 walks and nine strikeouts over 17.1 innings in his last three starts. Hamels is 7-3 with a 3.78 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP over 100 innings in 15 career starts against the Astros. He won his lone career start at Tropicana Field, which came August 19, 2016. Hamels threw 7.1 innings, allowing a run on three hits with two walks and 10 strikeouts in a 6-2 Rangers win.
Houston Astros Struggling in August
Houston, with their collective minds worried about the devastation from Hurricane Harvey, was overmatched in the opener of this series. The Astros entered Wednesday 4.5 games ahead of the Red Sox and Indians for the top record in the American League. Alex Bregman (RBI) led Houston with three hits while Yuli Guerriel and J.D. Davis each had a pair of hits. Jose Altuve drove in the other Astros run in the loss. Mike Fiers (8-9) took the loss on the mound as he was pounded for eight runs on eight hits with three walks and three strikeouts over four innings of work.
Collin McHugh takes the mound for his eighth start of the season for the Astros. He missed the first three months of the season with an elbow impingement: he is 2-2 with a 3.63 ERA, a 1.235 WHIP, 12 walks and 39 strikeouts over 39.2 innings of work. McHugh picked up the win in his last start, which came Friday on the road against the Angels. He threw six innings, allowing one run on three hits with two walks and eight strikeouts in a 2-1 Houston victory. McHugh is 2-1 with a 1.53 ERA, a 1.08 WHIP, four walks and 17 strikeouts over 17.2 innings in his last three starts. He makes his eighth career start against the Rangers in this contest: he is 4-1 with a 5.30 ERA and a 1.688 WHIP over 37.1 innings of work. McHugh is 0-2 with a 2.08 ERA and a 0.923 WHIP in his two career starts totaling 13 innings at Tropicana Field.
- Rangers are 5-0 in their last 5 games on astroturf
- Rangers are 12-3 in their last 15 vs. a team with a winning record
- Astros are 2-10 in their last 12 games vs. a left-handed starter
- Astros are 1-5 in their last 6 home games vs. a left-handed starter
- Astros are 0-5 in their last 5 Thursday games
This one is a tough one to call, especially given the concerns about the safety of people in Houston and the surrounding areas after being affected by Hurricane Harvey. The Astros were struggling in August before having this added to their list of woes. McHugh has looked good in his last two starts as he seems to finally be getting into form. Hamels struggled in his last outing but was on a roll prior to that. Texas has more at stake here as they’re chasing the wild card: look for them to find a way to get past the physically, mentally and emotionally drained Astros to win the series.
Pick: Texas Rangers +118
Both teams have their concerns about things after seeing the devastation that Harvey wreaked throughout Louisiana and Texas over the past week. The Astros are still in excellent shape for the postseason but they have seen their hold on the top spot in the American League erode a bit since the All Star break. Texas, despite dealing away Yu Darvish, Jonathan Lucroy and Jeremy Jeffress at the trade deadline, is still in the playoff picture. The Rangers still have work to do to make the postseason, which will put pressure on their less than proven rotation. Even Hamels has had his struggles of late, especially with control.
The over is 4-0 in the Rangers’ last 4 during game 3 of a series, 5-2 in their last seven overall, 5-2 in their last seven on the road, 13-3 in Hamels’ last 16 starts during game 3 of a series and 4-1 in his last five starts on Thursday. Houston has seen the over go 8-0-1 in their last 9 on astroturf, 4-1 in their last five overall and 4-1 in McHugh’s last five starts in the third game of a series. Given the distractions that surround both teams in this contest, look for this one to end up going over the total.