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Astros eye two-game Lone Star Series sweep of Rangers

Sportsnaut
Aug 24, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Texas Rangers starting pitcher Martin Perez (54) pitches in the first inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The way Texas Rangers ace Martin Perez is pitching, he doesn’t need many runs to pick up wins. Even so, the All-Star certainly will take all the support he can get.

Texas provided Perez with plenty of backing in his last outing, a 16-4 win over the Colorado Rockies on Aug. 24 in Denver.

The task for the left-hander will be more challenging on Wednesday afternoon in the Rangers’ series finale against the high-powered Houston Astros in Arlington, Texas.

The Astros claimed the first game 4-2 on Monday night, and they will look to sweep the two-game series.

Perez (10-4, 2.69 ERA), one of the best starters in the American League this year, will go up against Houston right-hander Cristian Javier (7-9, 2.97).

In Perez’s start against the Rockies, he tossed six shutout innings, yielding four hits, walking one and striking out seven.

Perez is 1-1 with a 3.43 ERA in three starts against the Astros this year, and 9-6 with a 3.09 ERA in 17 games vs. Houston in his career.

Javier is 1-1 with a 2.65 ERA in three starts against the Rangers in 2022, and 4-1 with a 2.77 ERA in 11 career outings (seven starts) vs. Texas.

Starting pitching has been a strength for the Astros. However, the organization received a scare on Sunday when ace Justin Verlander, an American League Cy Young Award front-runner, was pulled after three innings against the Baltimore Orioles due to right calf discomfort.

Verlander was placed on the 15-day injured list with a right calf ailment that the club believes isn’t serious.

“I didn’t realize how serious even a very minor muscle calf injury can be,” Verlander said Tuesday.

Still, the Astros are optimistic the IL stint will be a short one.

Verlander’s injury created a rotation spot for Javier.

The Astros have some starting pitching help on the way. The club confirmed that top right-handed pitching prospect Hunter Brown will be added when rosters expand to 28 on Thursday.

Finding ways to get their starters deeper into games has been an organizational priority.

“Our guys have done a very good job of going into that third time (through the order),” Astros general manager James Click said recently during a pregame radio interview. “It’s allowed our bullpen to remain very fresh and very sharp. But if we have to go to our bullpen, we feel very good about our depth there.”

Like the Astros, the Rangers have an imposing offense.

First baseman Nathaniel Lowe was named the American League Player of the Week on Monday after hitting .385 with four home runs and 11 RBIs in six games.

Second baseman Marcus Semien has settled into the leadoff spot. The veteran has 20 home runs and may project to be a middle-of-the-order hitter next season.

“If we had a leadoff or two hitter, then he could hit three,” Rangers interim manager Tony Beasley said in a pregame radio interview. “You could slot the lineup down, and that would be awesome. Right now, we’re not there yet, so leave him in the leadoff spot.

“He’s comfortable there. He doesn’t mind hitting there. I think Marcus is cool with any slot, as long as it’s consistent.”

–Field Level Media