There is no grim forecast for the Rangers' starting pitcher on Sunday. At least not from the man himself.
"It's going to be a good day," said Justin Grimm, who will take the hill for Texas in the series finale with Houston. "I'm confident going into it, and I'm going to go away with a win."
Through the season's first two months, Grimm compiled a 5-3 record and a 3.93 ERA in nine outings. Since then, the 24-year-old has endured a rough stretch, posting a 9.31 ERA in six starts since the calendar flipped to June. During that time, he has surrendered 38 hits -- including nine home runs -- in 29 innings.
"He's got to keep the ball down," said manager Ron Washington. "We have no issues with him competing, he just has to execute better. It's nothing new. He has to execute and stay away from the big inning. He's going to give up runs, but he has to stay away from the big innings."
Grimm (7-6, 5.84 ERA) registered six quality starts in his first nine outings. He hasn't recorded one since. The former fifth-round Draft pick is not lacking in confidence, though.
"[I need to] just continue to keep doing what I'm doing and get a little better at executing my pitches," Grimm said. "I had a good bullpen [session]. I concentrated mainly on my fastball and changeup. My curveball has been there and hasn't been an issue."
In Sunday's rubber match, Grimm will pitch against the Astros, whom he last faced in his Major League debut on June 16, 2012. That day, he earned his first big league win after tossing six innings and allowing three runs on six hits while tallying seven strikeouts.
He'll be opposed by Erik Bedard (3-4, 4.59 ERA), who has compiled a 2-1 record and a 2.88 ERA over his last four starts. The veteran southpaw has limited opponents to two runs or fewer in seven of his last 10 starts.
"It all starts and ends with starting pitching, and our starting pitching has been pretty good the last month and a half or so," said Astros manager Bo Porter. "They've been getting us deep into the game and giving us a chance to win the game."
Astros: Castro earns All-Star nod
• For the first time in franchise history, the Astros will send a player to the All-Star Game as part of the American League squad. That player will be catcher Jason Castro, who will travel to Citi Field to play a part in the Midsummer Classic for the first time. The 26-year-old socked his 12th home run of the season on Saturday and upped his RBI total to 31. Castro is batting .271 with an .814 OPS.
Rangers: Profar tries out left field
• Rookie infielder Jurickson Profar started in left field on Saturday for the first time. He has worked with third-base coach Gary Pettis to learn the position.
"This kid is a quick learner," Washington said. "That's not to say a ball won't get in the sun and he won't lose it, but if anybody can shield that sun and make a play, it'd be him."
• The Rangers will send at least three players to the All-Star Game. That number would rise to four should right-hander Tanner Scheppers beat out four other relievers in the AL Final Vote balloting. Yu Darvish, Joe Nathan and Nelson Cruz all were named All-Stars on Saturday. Nathan is an All-Star for the sixth time in his career. Darvish and Cruz earned their second career All-Star nods.
• The Rangers are expected to activate right-handed reliever Joakim Soria in time for Sunday's matinee. He has not pitched in a big league game since Sept. 11, 2011. He had Tommy John surgery in April 2012.
• Astros closer Jose Veras has allowed a run in only one of his last 14 appearances.