Astros at Rangers
The Houston Astros have won nine of 11 to remain hot on the heels of the sizzling Cleveland Indians for the best record in the American League. The AL West champion Astros aim to continue their ascent on Tuesday when they play the second contest of their three-game series versus the host Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington.
Jose Altuve had a single in Monday's 11-2 series-opening romp, moving the diminutive star to within one hit of 200 for the fourth consecutive season. The 27-year-old Altuve, who is bidding to become the first player in major-league history to lead either the AL or NL in hits outright in four straight years, is 6-for-18 in his career versus Tuesday starter Cole Hamels. While Houston resides two games behind Cleveland for top honors in the AL, the Rangers have dropped four in a row to sit six games in back of Minnesota for the second wild-card spot with six to play. Joey Gallo went deep in the series opener, but is just 11-for-58 - albeit with five homers - this season against Houston and 0-for-5 in his career versus Tuesday starter Dallas Keuchel.
TV: 8:05 p.m. ET, AT&T SportsNet-Southwest (Houston), FSN Southwest (Texas)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Astros LH Dallas Keuchel (13-5, 2.96 ERA) vs. Rangers LH Cole Hamels (11-4, 3.80)
Keuchel sustained his third loss in five outings on Thursday despite allowing two runs on five hits in six innings of a 3-1 setback versus the Chicago White Sox. The 29-year-old began that stretch with a loss versus Texas on Aug. 30, dropping to 2-1 with a 3.38 ERA against the Rangers this season. Mike Napoli took Keuchel deep in that contest, with the hurler yielding a homer in eight of his last 11 trips to the mound.
Hamels puts his unbeaten home mark on the line Tuesday, with the 33-year-old boasting a 7-0 record and 3.50 ERA in 10 starts this season. One of the wins in that stretch was a dominant performance against Houston on Aug. 11, during which he scattered three hits over seven scoreless innings in Texas' 6-4 triumph. Hamels pitched well in his last outing on Thursday, yielding one run on three hits over eight innings of a 4-2 win at Seattle.
1. Houston INF-OF Marwin Gonzalez, who has multi-hit performances in five of his last nine outings, is 7-for-9 with three RBIs and five runs scored in his last two contests.
2. Rangers 3B-DH Adrian Beltre had two hits in the opener and is 20-for-46 with two homers and 13 RBIs versus the Astros this season.
3. Houston C Evan Gattis had two hits on Monday after going 2-for-21 against Texas previously this season.