The Texas Rangers have the day off today [Sept. 1] before beginning an ever-so important series against AL West rival Houston. Texas leads the Astros by 8.5 games in the division and can put the figurative nail in the coffin with a sweep. You know, kind of like how they took care of the Seattle Mariners.
The rotation for this series is stacking up beautifully for Texas. First you have a pair in the rotation [Derek Holland/AJ Griffin] who need to continue to prove to Jeff Banister they can be reliable contributors in the post season after showing next to no consistency in the regular season. Both are pitching their best baseball of the season with Holland owning a 1.50 ERA with 10 K’s to only one walk in 12.0 innings pitched. Griffin has been rather masterful in the early goings of his outings. The issue is the deeper into a ballgame he goes the more susceptible he is to getting rocked. With his first 30 pitches of a ballgame Griffin has given up 13 runs in 196 at bats, in his next 30 pitches AJ allowed 29 runs in 164 ABs. He has less than a month to correct what has been an issue practically all season long, however, in his last appearance Griffin went six innings of scoreless baseball against the Indians.
Yu Darvish is penciled in to start game three against the ‘Stros, a team he has been dominant against. In two starts this season, Darvish has a 0.75 ERA with 15 K’s in 12 innings. He had a 2.83 ERA in 2013 with 52 K’s in five starts, including being one out away from a perfect game in the 2013 season opener. Not only has Darvish been successful against Houston, but factor in how good he’s been since the arrival of catcher Jonathan Lucroy and Sunday’s game has the makings of a gem. The Rangers have won five straight when Yu takes the hill, while the right hander hasn’t given up more than three earned runs all season long.
For obvious reasons, this series means significantly more to the Astros than it does the Rangers. That’s just the nature of holding a sizable lead in the division. Unfortunately for Houston, they would be in this race if they hadn’t performed so horrendously against the Rangers this season. Texas is 35-19 against the AL West and 10-2 against Houston. A sweep would bury the Astros while a simple series win taking two of three would extend the Ranger division lead to 9.5 games with only 25 games left. That doesn’t bode well for Nolan’s team. The Rangers and Astros have one series left to play from Sept. 12-14, but Texas looks to give that series a “too little too late” feeling.