06/24/10 1:31 PM ET
Astros seek revenge on rival Rangers
By Spencer Fordin / MLB.com
The Astros and Rangers will meet each other for the second time in a week Friday, when they reconvene for their final Interleague series of the season. The Rangers swept a three-game series from the Astros last weekend, but now they'll need to prove they can do it again in short order at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
And on the surface, it seems to be an entirely attainable goal for the Rangers. Texas has been surging recently and has one of the best records in baseball, while Houston has won two straight and lost nine of its last 12 games. Now, after taking two of three from the Giants, the Astros get to renew their in-state rivalry on short notice.
"We have done it with teams, but I can't remember doing it in Interleague like this," said Houston manager Brad Mills, speaking of playing the same team twice in so short a span. "It has been a quick turnaround."
Indeed it has, and it's been so quick that the Astros may have the details of their last meeting emblazoned on their collective consciousness. Houston lost the first game by six runs and the second one by four, and then it scored four runs in the first two innings of the finale before ultimately falling by a 5-4 score in extra innings.
The Astros will start Brian Moehler in the opener, and he's coming off a solid performance against the Rangers. Moehler worked six innings and allowed two runs in his last outing, but the Astros scored their lone run in the seventh. Texas will counter with Colby Lewis, who's gone 7-4 thus far this season.
Houston has had some turnover in its rotation in recent weeks and will see more in the coming days. The Astros placed Felipe Paulino on the disabled list Thursday, and Josh Banks will take his rotation slot. Also, right-hander Bud Norris is expected to come off the disabled list to start Monday's series opener against Milwaukee.
Astros: Castro belts first homer
The Astros got a positive return from former first-round draftee Jason Castro on Thursday, when he hit the first home run of his brief big league career. Castro, who made his big league debut Tuesday, will likely get heavy playing time for the rest of the season and may help diversify Houston's top-heavy lineup.
Amazingly, just two players -- Carlos Lee and Hunter Pence -- have accounted for half of Houston's power output. Pence, who homered Thursday, and Lee have combined for 21 of the team's 42 home runs this season. Castro, while not regarded as an imposing power hitter, is expected to add a little more punch to the lineup.
Rangers: Lewis succeeding in return to States
Sometimes, you've just got to go for an import. The Rangers came to that conclusion over the winter when they welcomed Lewis back to the fold. Lewis, who had been originally drafted by Texas in the 1999 First-Year Player Draft, finally found his best form in Japan's Central League, where he starred for the Hiroshima Carp.
Lewis went 26-17 with a 2.82 ERA in two seasons with Hiroshima, and the Rangers made a low-risk investment to bring him back this winter. And it's paid dividends: The right-hander has allowed more than three earned runs just three times this season, and he's completed at least six innings in nine of his last 10 starts.
Houston turned double plays in four different innings in Thursday's victory. ... The Astros are 24-10 when they score at least four runs, and they're 4-35 when they score three runs or less. ... Houston is 16-14 in games decided by two runs or less. ... Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton went 3-for-4 on Thursday night and extended his career high hitting streak to 18 games. He's batting .500 (36-for-72) with eight home runs and 24 RBIs in that span. It matches Kansas City's Jose Guilen for the longest such streak in the Majors this year. Guillen's streak is also active.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.