Two teams trying to avoid losing 100 games hope to use each other as a springboard to greater success in the final four weeks of the season when the Texas Rangers visit the Arizona Diamondbacks for the opener of a two-game interleague series on Tuesday night.
The last-place clubs battled on even terms in an earlier two-game set in Texas in July, with each capturing a one-run victory.
The Rangers (49-88) haven’t lost 100 games since they went 57-105 in 1973. They would need to go 14-11 in their final 25 games to keep the 47-year streak alive.
Texas played like it’s intent upon doing just that the last two days on the road against the Los Angeles Angels, picking up 7-3 and 4-0 wins.
The Rangers have won five of eight since dropping a season-worst 41 games under .500 on Aug. 28.
The Diamondbacks (45-93), meanwhile, have a much tougher road in their quest to avoid their first 100-loss season since 2004. Their 111 defeats that year marked the only time in franchise history that they went into triple digits in losses.
Arizona has lost three straight and eight of nine. It would need to finish 18-6 to avoid a second 100-loss season.
Young right-handers Spencer Howard of the Rangers (0-3, 6.56) and Zac Gallen of the Diamondbacks (2-8, 4.34) are the scheduled starters, with each making his first career start against the opponent.
Howard has gone 0-1 with a 9.82 ERA in three starts since acquired from Philadelphia. The 25-year-old hasn’t pitched more than three innings in any of those outings, all of which Texas has lost.
Howard will face a Diamondbacks team that is coming off a three-game home sweep against the Seattle Mariners that couldn’t be blamed on the offense. Arizona totaled 14 runs in the series, getting 10 doubles, a triple and three homers.
Ketel Marte, Carson Kelly and David Peralta accounted for the Diamondbacks’ homers, but the big hitters were Andrew Young and Nick Ahmed. They each had three hits, with Young collecting three doubles, while Ahmed had a triple, double and single.
Howard also could see outfielder Henry Ramos, who made a name for himself last week when he was ejected from a minor-league game for an altercation that occurred while he was rounding the bases on a home run.
An 11-year minor-leaguer, Ramos was promoted to the majors on Sunday and stroked a pinch-hit single in his first big-league at-bat.
“That was a great moment for all of us — our entire dugout,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo insisted. “When you watch somebody run back in the dugout with a big smile on their face, having officially become a major-league player — we all inside that dugout have been there one way or another, so we celebrate with him.”
Unlike Howard, Gallen has pitched well in his last three starts, allowing just three earned runs in 18 innings.
He will have to deal with the Rangers’ red-hot DJ Peters, who powered Texas’ last two wins over the Angels with five hits, including a double and two homers, and five RBIs.
“This guy prepares better than anybody. He writes everything down,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward gushed. “I think he’s accumulated some knowledge about himself and about the league, and he’s able to apply it on a daily basis. There’s a lot of adjustments to be made as he moves forward, but it’s been fun to watch.”
–Field Level Media