Two teams on opposite sides of the Lone Star State and the AL West will meet in the second of a three-game set on Saturday when the Texas Rangers take on the Houston Astros.
As might be expected in the first game of the series on Friday night, the division-leading Rangers came out on top, 4-2, against the last-place Astros. At 10-26 the Astros are in sole possession of the worst record in the majors and have lost eight of their last 10.
The two teams were tied 2-2 in the seventh inning when Jeff Baker smacked his fourth home run of the season to put the Rangers ahead for good. David Murphy added a home run in the ninth inning for some insurance for the Rangers, who have won back-to-back games after a two-game slide.
Alexi Ogando got the start for the Rangers but did not factor in the decision while pitching 5 2/3 innings and allowing two runs. Robbie Ross got the win for the Rangers with 1 1/3 innings of scoreless work while Joe Nathan pitched a perfect ninth inning for his 10th save of the season.
Dallas Keuchel had a quality start for Houston with six innings of work in which he scattered five hits and a pair of earned runs. Wesley Wright came in for Keuchel in the seventh inning and let up Baker's home run to take the loss.
Marwin Gonzalez went 2-for-4 from the nine-hole for the Astros, who had their top four batters go a combined 1-for-16.
If the Astros hope to pick up a win on Saturday they won't have an easy go of it as Rangers ace Yu Darvish will get the start. Last time they saw Darvish, the right-hander came within an out of a perfect game as he pitched 8 2/3 innings before giving up a hit for his first base runner. Darvish is also 2-0 with an ERA of 1.08 in his brief career against Houston.
Darvish has really started to capture the promise that earned him the six-year $56 million contract he signed with Texas a year ago. Darvish is 5-1 through the first seven starts of this season with an ERA of 2.56 to go along with a major-league leading 72 strikeouts.
Darvish had his first no-decision against Boston last Sunday when he allowed three runs over seven innings. However, the Rangers still got the win in the contest, making them 6-1 in starts by Darvish. The right-hander also tied a season-high with 14 strikeouts in the contest -- the fourth time this season he has reached at least 10 punchouts.
Getting the task of butting heads with Darvish is Astros veteran left-hander Erik Bedard. The 10-year journeyman was brought in to bring veteran leadership to the Astros' rotation but Bedard has not done so. At 0-2 with an ERA of 7.36, the lefty really needs to turn it around.
Bedard went just 3 1/3 innings in his last outing which came in relief in a 9-0 loss to Detroit last Sunday. In his last start, Bedard gave up four runs on six hits in four innings of work. The four innings matched a season-high for Bedard.
In his 10-year career, Bedard has faced Texas 16 times with 15 starts. In that time he is 5-4 with an ERA of 3.36. This season Bedard came out of the bullpen in his only outing against the Rangers when he pitched 3 1/3 innings of shutout baseball to pick up his first career save.
Though the Astros won that contest 8-2 against the Rangers on opening night, they lost the next two games by a combined score of 11-0.