Astros aim to keep rolling against slumping Rangers

MLB

While the Houston Astros are ascending, a deep offensive slump has sent the Texas Rangers into a tailspin.

The Astros look to continue rolling while the Rangers hope to find some offense after consecutive shutout losses when the American League West foes begin a three-game series Friday night in Arlington, Texas.

Houston swept Texas last weekend and is 8-1 in its past nine games. The Astros also are 19-8 since April 22 and are a season-high eight games over .500 after getting an 8-4 win over the Oakland Athletics on Thursday afternoon when Martin Maldonado homered and had three RBI.

The Astros have scored at least five runs in six straight games and 10 of their past 13 contests since a 6-3 loss to the New York Yankees on May 5. On Thursday, the Astros collected 14 hits, marking their third straight game with at least 10 hits.

Jose Altuve had two more hits and scored three times to extend his hitting streak to 14 games. Altuve is batting .400 (24-for-60) during the streak, raising his average from .247 to .314.

Altuve is one of five .300 hitters at the top of Houston’s batting order from Thursday. Michael Brantley is batting .307, Alex Bregman is at .324 after getting three hits Thursday, while Yordan Alvarez and Gurriel are hitting .338 and .333, respectively.

“I think we’re putting together good at-bats up and down the lineup,” Bregman said. “I think we can improve a lot from where we are right now as well. I think everybody would agree with that.”

While Houston’s offense is humming along nicely, Texas is in a deep funk and has not scored since the fifth inning on Tuesday. The Rangers are coming off consecutive losses and mustered six hits in a 2-0 loss to the Yankees Thursday afternoon after getting no-hit by Corey Kluber Wednesday.

Texas is 1-9 in its past 10 games since reaching .500 with a 10-2 win over the Seattle Mariners on May 9. During this skid, the Rangers have scored 26 runs and are hitting .188 (60-for-319).

“There were certain moments in the game today where we could have been the aggressor and we chose not to be,” Texas manager Chris Woodward said after Thursday’s loss. “Our guys are still playing. You can’t avoid frustration. You have to deal with it. You have to come back the next day, which our guys are going to do. I know that, but I’d prefer it was in our style of play.”

Kyle Gibson (3-0, 2.32), who is third in the AL in earned run average, faces the Astros for the second straight turn. Gibson, whose 5.35 ERA was second-highest among AL qualifiers last season, last pitched Sunday when he allowed two runs on four hits in seven innings of a no-decision.

Gibson is 4-2 with a 2.59 ERA in 10 career starts against Houston and 1-0 with a 0.79 ERA in three starts against the Astros since joining Texas last season.

The Astros will call up Tyler Ivey to make his major league debut in place of Jose Urquidy, who is dealing with a shoulder injury. Ivey was Houston’s third-round pick in 2017 and posted a 7.11 ERA in two games with Triple-A Sugar Land this season.

The Astros added Ivey to their 40-man roster in the offseason and hope to see the pitcher who was 4-0 with a 1.38 ERA in 14 appearances for three different minor-league teams in 2019.

–Field Level Media

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