|4:10 PM PT5:10 PM MT6:10 PM CT7:10 PM ET19:10 ET23:10 GMT7:10 4:10 PM MST6:10 PM EST6:40 PM VEN3:10 UAE (+1)5:10 PM CT, May 15, 2021
Minute Maid Park, Houston, Texas Attendance: 25,858
Astros aim to walk over Rangers again
Texas Rangers at Houston Astros
- These teams split their 2020 series, 5-5, with the Rangers winning the final three games. Texas hasn't won the season series since going 15-4 in 2016, the least year it won the AL West.
- Houston won the final two games of its three-game set with the Angels this week, 5-1 and 9-1. The Astros have an MLB-high six wins by seven or more runs this year, and no losses by that margin; only the Padres (4-0) and Blue Jays (2-0) are also undefeated in such games.
- After getting to .500 through Sunday's games (18-18), the Rangers lost a pair of games to the Giants. They are one of three MLB teams that haven't been above .500 at any point this season, along with the Braves and Marlins.
- Adolis Garcia leads all MLB rookies with nine home runs and 26 RBI. Seven of his homers and 18 of his RBI have come on the road.
- Over his last four games, Kyle Tucker is 7-for-13 with three homers, seven RBI and seven runs scored. He has 65 RBI since the start of last season, fifth most in the American League.
- Cristian Javier suffered his first loss of the season on Saturday versus the Blue Jays, allowing five runs and a career-high four walks in 5.1 innings. He had a 0.87 ERA through four starts this season, compared to a 6.97 ERA over his last two outings.
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Plate discipline can manifest in several forms, and for the Houston Astros this season, their ability to avoid the strikeout and put the ball in play is foundational to their offensive exploits.
The Astros enters Saturday's home game against the Texas Rangers with the fewest strikeouts in the American League, striking out 20.8 percent of the time, but that success didn't necessarily correlate to an exceptional ability to work walks from opposing pitchers. Houston batters have walked 123 times -- 52 fewer walks than the MLB-leading Los Angeles Dodgers.
So the results from Friday's game against the Rangers proved moderately surprising.
The Astros drew a season-high eight walks in their 10-4 victory over Texas. Yuli Gurriel and Carlos Correa combined for five walks in the middle of the order while Myles Straw and Martin Maldonado, batting eighth and ninth, both worked bases-loaded walks in the third inning.
"That's pretty impressive to have more walks than strikeouts," Astros right fielder Kyle Tucker said of Gurriel, who has 20 walks against 19 strikeouts this season. "And we kind of carry that throughout the whole lineup.
"That's kind of one of the advantages of having good strike-zone discipline with our team."
Right-hander Luis Garcia (0-3, 3.60 ERA) will take the mound Saturday as the Astros attempt to clinch the series. Garcia is searching for his first career victory in what will be his seventh career start and 13th appearance. He allowed three runs and five hits with seven strikeouts over 5 1/3 innings against the Los Angeles Angels on May 10 but did not factor into the decision in the Astros' 5-4 loss. Garcia will take his fourth turn in the rotation in place of right-hander Jake Odorizzi, who landed on the 10-day injured list on April 26 with a right pronator muscle strain.
Garcia has a 5.40 ERA in two career appearances against Texas without recording a decision.
Right-hander Dane Dunning (2-2, 3.78 ERA) will get the start for the Rangers. He has not allowed a home run since surrendering a blast to Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette in the first inning of his Texas debut on April 6. Dunning has posted a 6.38 ERA over his past four starts but fanned a career-high 10 batters in Texas' 10-2 win over the Seattle Mariners on May 9. Saturday will mark his first career appearance against the Astros.
The Rangers are banking on Dunning and veteran right-hander Kyle Gibson, Texas' scheduled starter for the series finale Sunday, doing a superior job of commanding the strike zone from a pitching perspective. Their passive approach to pitching Friday proved detrimental.
"We've got to go right after them," Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. "I'm not shy about saying that all year. We've got two of our best guys that have done pretty well this year in Dunning and Gibby. It's on them. It's not pressure; go after these guys. If they hit you they hit you. If you can execute pitches in the zone, they have holes, they have weaknesses. I don't like giving guys too much credit, especially when we're pitching against them."
--Field Level Media
Updated May 15, 2021