Major League Baseball
Preview
Texas at Houston
When: 8:10 PM ET, Friday, July 19, 2019
Where: Minute Maid Park, Houston, Texas

The slumping Texas Rangers attempt to halt their four-game losing streak when they host the Houston Astros on Friday for the opener of their three-game series. The funk has led to a rise in trade speculation, which has become highly irritating to All-Stars Mike Minor and Hunter Pence.

Minor lashed out about his name being mentioned while Pence is lobbying for no one to be dealt with the team just 4 1/2 games out of the American League's second wild-card spot. "We're all excited and feel good about who we have," Pence told reporters. "We have a great collection of talent and we are just staying dialed in to prepare for the game. That keeps me happy. Anytime I get caught up in what's going to happen in the future, it stresses you out and is not good for you." Astros ace Justin Verlander is 3-0 with a 2.63 ERA in four starts against Texas this season and will look to help his club build on its 5 1/2-game lead over Oakland in the AL West. George Springer hit four homers during a four-game series with the Los Angeles Angels, including one in Thursday's 6-2 road victory.

TV: 8:10 p.m. ET, FS Southwest (Texas), AT&T SportsNet-Southwest (Houston)

PITCHING MATCHUP: Rangers LH Mike Minor (8-4, 2.73 ERA) vs. Astros RH Justin Verlander (11-4, 2.98)

Minor is enjoying the best season of his career as he is in the second year of a three-year, $28 million deal and feels comfortable with the Rangers. "I don't want to go anywhere," the 31-year-old told reporters. "My name was talked about in the offseason, so I'm used to it. It seems like ever since I signed, I've been a topic. It's like I signed here just to be traded." Minor is 3-3 with a 4.48 ERA in 14 career games (11 starts) versus Houston after giving up four runs and seven hits over five innings in a no-decision on Saturday.

Verlander defeated the Rangers on Sunday, when he gave up two runs and four hits over six innings. The 36-year-old is holding Texas batters to a collective .167 average this season and often has stymied the club while going 16-8 with a 2.79 ERA in 29 career starts. Verlander, who will be trying to move into a tie for the major-league lead in victories, is just 3-2 in eight turns at home despite posting a 2.95 ERA and 0.80 WHIP.

WALK-OFFS

1. The Astros hold an 8-6 advantage in the season series with the Rangers.

2. Texas has been outscored 47-16 during its four-game slide, with Houston registering 19 of those runs during the first two contests of the skid.

3. Houston 3B-SS Alex Bregman reached base four times on two hits - including a home run - and two walks on Thursday.

PREDICTION: Astros 5, Rangers 3
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk Home Away East Central West IL
Texas 50-46 L4 31-21 19-25 7-6 13-7 22-24 8-9
Houston 61-37 W2 33-14 28-23 13-10 12-9 30-11 6-7
Last Meeting
Texas Houston
Date Away Home Avg HR OPS Avg HR OPS
7/14/19 HOU 12 TEX 4 .161 0 .439 .316 2 .955
Player Stats
Season Series
Batting Player Avg Hits OPS
Texas E. Andrus .241 13 .657
Houston G. Springer .415 22 1.322
Offense Player HR Runs RBI
Texas J. Gallo 3 9 11
Houston G. Springer 6 15 12
Pitching ERA Avg K
Texas 5.52 .209 110
Houston 4.62 .294 155
Season
Batting Player Avg Hits OPS
Texas E. Andrus .296 103 .772
Houston M. Brantley .321 116 .885
Offense Player HR Runs RBI
Texas J. Gallo 22 53 49
Houston A. Bregman 25 70 61
Pitching ERA Avg K
Texas 5.07 .251 818
Houston 3.91 .270 983