The battle for the Silver Boot commences tonight! It will be the beginning of the Lone Star Series – the Houston Astros vs. the Texas Rangers — a rivalry that fires up Texas’ baseball fans near and far in the state’s largest cities. he Astros take their road show to Globe Life Stadium in a three-game set – they have hopes of capturing the mystique of a win streak – something that has been hard to come by for quite some time as this team rebuilds for the future.
The Astros are fresh off a 6-4 win last night over the Blue Jays as the Rangers emerge from one day of rest after succumbing 2-4 to the power of the Boston Red Sox – the defending World Champs. Both teams did not see much success in their previous respective series.
But there is a positive aspect that can make any devoted Astros fan optimistic — the Rangers have struggled as of late — losing four of their last six but it doesn’t get any better for the Orangemen who have only won two of their last eight games.
It’s time the ‘Stros capitalize on the Rangers woes and make this a series to remember.
And here’s BP’s Bull’s Eye, the players the Astros must keep an eye on:
- Shin-Soo Choo — This guy gets on base, plain and simple. He had 112 walks, 34 doubles, 20 stolen bases with a .423 on-base percentage. Choo was rewarded with a seven-year, $130 million contract extension in the offseason and it has already translated to on the field. He currently wields a .475 OBP – 4th in the AL — and I don’t seeing that number decreasing any time soon.
- Prince Fielder – Need I say more? The brawny first baseman and five-time All-Star was the Rangers’ big splash in the offseason, acquired from the Detroit Tigers in exchange for long-time second baseman Ian Kinsler. I’ve talked with Rangers’ fans and the reviews were mixed in regard to the trade but what they will have is guy who can hit a ton and can play solid defense. As of late, Fielder has floundered going 6/37 and hitting a gaudy .162. He will look to redeem himself against an Astros team that has had some struggles of late.
- Adrian Beltre – I was in high school when this guy started his career! The four-time Gold Glove Winner still remains a valuable centerpiece for the Rangers. However, as he continues to age, there is a slight depression in his numbers. Despite that, he did continue to churn out a .315 batting average and knock out 30 home runs in 2013. He currently is nursing a mild strain of his left quadriceps, so if he is not ready, then Kevin Kouzmanoff, who had success in Spring Training — hitting .370 — will get the nod. Kouzmanoff was just called up Wednesday from Triple-A Round Rock.
Fun Stat: The Astros are ranked 2nd in the majors in home runs with 14 while the Rangers, with all of that firepower they have, are ranked 28th — the bottom of the barrel — with only four on the season.
Now without further adieu, here are this weekend’s matchups: