Rangers, Astros out to shake off rough patch in rematch

Field Level Media

April 12, 2024 at 7:43 am.

The Astros and Texas Rangers, who split a four-game series last week in Arlington, Texas, will begin a three-game rematch on Friday in Houston with both clubs looking to shake off series defeats.

The Rangers dropped two of three at home against the Oakland A’s, while the Astros were swept in a three-game road set against the Kansas City Royals.

For the second time in four days, an Astros starter failed to record three outs, as Hunter Brown lasted only two-thirds of an inning on Thursday.

Brown surrendered nine runs on 11 hits, becoming the first pitcher in major league history to allow that many hits without completing at least one inning. The Astros never recovered en route to a 13-3 loss, capping their 2-5 road trip before a six-game homestand.

In the four games since Ronel Blanco twirled six shutout innings in a 3-1 win over the Rangers on Sunday, Astros starters Blair Henley, Cristian Javier, Spencer Arrighetti and Brown logged a combined 9 1/3 innings while yielding 24 runs (23 earned) on 27 hits.

Henley and Arrighetti made their respective major league debuts Monday and Wednesday, with Henley recording only one out in the Astros’ 10-5 win over Texas.

Injuries to the rotation have decimated the Astros. Houston has five starters on the injured list: Justin Verlander, Framber Valdez, Lance McCullers Jr., Luis Garcia and Jose Urquidy. Valdez (elbow) was a late scratch Monday, facilitating the need for Henley to make an emergency start. Brown has allowed 14 runs on 19 hits over his past two starts, pitching only 3 2/3 innings.

The injuries, combined with the inability of the remaining starters to work deep, have resulted in an overworked bullpen. It’s a grave concern considering the Astros aren’t expecting McCullers and Garcia to return until the second half of the season at the earliest.

“It is something that I think about all the time,” Astros manager Joe Espada said of the bullpen workload. “Trying to keep those guys healthy is important for us to accomplish our goal.

“But at some point, we’re going to get the starters to do their job, and they will. They’ve done it in the past and it’s just a matter of time.”

Houston right-hander J.P. France (0-1, 4.76 ERA) is the scheduled starter on Friday. He allowed three runs on eight hits and two walks with four strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings in a 7-2 loss to the Rangers on Saturday, and he is with a 4.08 ERA in three career starts against Texas.

France went 11-6 with a 3.83 ERA over 24 appearances (23 starts) as a rookie last season.

Right-hander Dane Dunning (1-1, 4.15) is scheduled to start the series opener for the Rangers. He took the loss opposite Blanco on Sunday despite posting a quality start, allowing three runs on four hits and three walks with seven strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings.

Dunning is 0-3 with a 5.20 ERA over eight career appearances (five starts) against the Astros. He is 0-1 with a 6.35 ERA in two appearances (one start) at Houston.

The Rangers capped a 3-4 homestand on Thursday by being one-hit in a 1-0 loss to the Athletics. In dropping four of their last five games, the Rangers scored a combined 15 runs.

“That’s a good lineup that was out there,” Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said. “We’ve got to find a way to win a game like this. We just couldn’t get much going. We couldn’t get guys on base. If you don’t hit, things always look a little flat. We just didn’t do much.”

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