Astros-Rangers Preview

The Lone Star State battle for last year's AL West title went down to the final week of the season before Texas edged Houston by two games, setting the tone for a rivalry that's been enhanced by the Astros' resurgence.

The race is expected to be competitive again after both clubs made the playoffs, but neither has started 2016 the way they would've liked.

The Rangers won the final seven home meetings with Houston last season and will be coming off two days' rest when this three-game set begins Tuesday night in Arlington.

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"Last year those games were amazing," Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus told MLB's official website. "It was good baseball and great for Texas. We haven't been through something like that in a while. It's going to be a tough rivalry."

Texas (7-6) took 13 of 19 meetings and won the West for the first time since the second of back-to-back titles in 2011. Houston (5-8) beat the New York Yankees in the wild-card game before falling in five to eventual World Series champion Kansas City in the Division Series.

The Astros have started slowly this season and didn't win a series until taking two of three from Detroit with Sunday's 5-4 victory. They didn't hit their stride until mid-April in 2015, though, following a 4-6 start.

"What it means for baseball is you have two really good teams who have built their teams in somewhat different ways but arrive on the scene prepared to win," manager A.J. Hinch said. "That's neat for our sport. I'm glad that we were a part of it. We want to sustain that moving forward."

The Astros handled Derek Holland in his last two starts against them last season, and they'll get another crack at him to kick off this season's series. Holland (1-0, 2.31 ERA) gave up nine runs and 17 hits over 10 2-3 innings in those outings.

The left-hander pitched a solid game last Tuesday, though, allowing four hits - three infield knocks and a soft, broken-bat blooper - through 6 2-3 innings of an 8-0 win at Seattle. It's the only scoreless outing by a Rangers starter this season and comes during a six-game stretch in which starters have a 2.83 ERA.

Holland originally was slated to start Sunday, but the series finale against Baltimore was rained out after the Rangers took two of the first three. Texas played 13 straight days before getting a day off and is scheduled to play 22 of the next 23 days.

Jose Altuve went deep off Holland on Sept. 26 and Carlos Correa homered twice against him in that 9-7 win. The 5-foot-6 Altuve has four homers this season and three in a five-game stretch during which he's batting .421.

Altuve led off Sunday's bottom of the first with a homer, and George Springer added a solo shot in the third.

"I'm just trying to get on base and let Carlos and George do the damage," Altuve said.

Correa sat out that contest to rest up for the Rangers. The reigning AL Rookie of the Year had four homers, three doubles and drew six walks against Texas pitching over 13 games last season.

He'll try to provide some offense for Scott Feldman (0-1, 3.48), who spent his first eight seasons with Texas. He lost both starts against his former team last season, giving up 10 runs and 18 hits - three homers - over 8 2-3 innings.

The right-hander is 0-4 with a 5.50 ERA in his last seven starts at Globe Life Park dating to his time with the Rangers.