The Astros' move to the American League has made their intrastate rivalry with the Rangers more than a biannual affair, but that doesn't mean Houston has enjoyed seeing its neighbors to the north.
The Rangers -- winners of six straight -- enter Sunday's game at Minute Maid Park with a 9-2 edge in their season series against the Astros. With a win, Texas will clinch the Silver Boot for the seventh straight season. The Rangers have won nine of the 12 season series thus far.
A pair of lefties take the hill Sunday, as the Rangers' Martin Perez faces Houston's Dallas Keuchel.
Perez comes to Houston after consecutive strong outings against the Angels, sporting a 1.98 ERA in those two starts. The 22-year-old had a 9.00 ERA in his previous three starts, but said he now feels more confident.
"I'm more relaxed in my mind and my body," said Perez, who faces the Astros for the first time. "I'm not thinking too much. I'm just trying to throw strikes and get ahead in the count ... be aggressive and give my team a chance to win."
Keuchel returns to the rotation Sunday after making two relief appearances. He's pitched much better in the rotation (4.50 ERA, .291 average against) than out of the bullpen (6.75, .326) this season.
"That's something I'm not used to," Keuchel said of bouncing between the rotation and bullpen. "At the end of the day, you still have to make pitches, and tomorrow I'm going to try to do that."
Keuchel last faced the Rangers on July 6, tossing five innings of one-run ball.
Rangers: Butler opted to Triple-A
The addition of Alex Rios to the active roster on Saturday led the Rangers to option right-handed-hitting outfielder Joey Butler to Triple-A Round Rock. Among the biggest reasons Texas optioned Butler is because the club already has two right-handed-hitting outfielders in Craig Gentry and Rios.
"It was very tough," manager Ron Washington said. "He handled himself well up here and helped us win a ballgame. He was another piece of the development system that came up here and did well."
• Rios has a 10-game hitting streak.
Astros: Grossman adjusting well to bigs
Since being recalled from Triple-A on July 27, Robbie Grossman has hit in 11 of his 12 games at a .400 clip, with three home runs and nine RBIs.
• Jason Castro has a 10-game hitting streak.
• Shortstop Jonathan Villar (sprained left thumb) pinch-hit Saturday but likely will be held out of Sunday's starting lineup because the Astros face a lefty starter.
• The Rangers are 22-13 in games when the opponent starts a left-hander.
• The Rangers have 15 stolen bases in 16 attempts in their last four games.