The Texas Rangers are not eliminated from the playoffs yet. That needs to be on the top of their mind as the begin the final push of the season, which consists of all seven remaining games at home, starting with a three-game series against the Houston Astros.
It goes without saying that having a series at home against the Astros sets up well for any team trying to squeeze back into a playoff spot. The Rangers have dominated the Astros this year as expected, and have a record of 14-2 against the divisional rival for the season. The Astros are 1-5 at Rangers Ballpark, and that one win was ironically behind the efforts of pitcher Travis Blackley, who now suits up for Texas.
The Rangers’ pitching has been better, giving up no more than four runs in any of the last six games. The offense continues to be non-existent, which could turn around as early as tonight against starting pitcher Jordan Lyles. Lyles was hammered for eight earned runs on 11 hits in just four innings in his single appearance against the Rangers this year.
For the season, Lyles has a 5.26 ERA and is coming off an outing where he was blasted for seven runs in only 3.1 innings in a loss to the Cincinnati Reds. The Rangers are hoping to have similar success against Lyles in hopes of both bolstering their playoff chances and also getting some of their hitters to heat up at the plate.
Adrian Beltre has been in a massive slump in September, but has been warming up a bit over the last week. He has had some success against Lyles in the past, going 6-of-15 against the right-hander. David Murphy has had great success as well, and is 4-of-6 with two homers against Lyles.
Mitch Moreland is in the midst of a terrible year batting just .232, and is one of the few Rangers that has had trouble with Houston. He has just one hit in 10 at-bats against the Astros, but the Rangers will need him to find a way to contribute.
The Rangers can kiss the playoffs goodbye if they can’t manage to take care of Houston. If all goes as planned, the Rangers will walk away tonight with a win and some much-needed signs of life from a flat-lining offense.