Astros, eager to get back on field, take on Rangers

MLB Baseball
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Following a doubleheader sweep of the Oakland Athletics on Saturday, the Houston Astros stood pat at the trade deadline Monday in advance of a three-game series against the visiting Texas Rangers tentatively set to commence Tuesday.

Houston closed to within two games in the loss column of first-place Oakland in the American League West. With a number of veteran contributors set to return from the injured list, the Astros did not bolster their roster.

“We weren’t going to make a move just to make a move,” Astros general manager James Click said. “We were going to make a move if we thought it would put us in a better position to win a World Series.”

The Astros’ inactivity at the trade deadline turned the page on an odd week for the club. Houston had four games postponed over the first seven scheduled games of its homestand, with two games against the Los Angeles Angels wiped out by Hurricane Laura.

Houston had one game against the Athletics postponed by a coordinated protest, and the series finale was lost when a member of the Athletics’ traveling party tested positive for COVID-19.

That last game against the Athletics has yet to be rescheduled, and the Astros remain hopeful that they will not be forced to play that contest in Oakland after already having had one of their two postponed games against the Angels rescheduled for Anaheim on Sept. 5.

Additionally, the series against the Rangers remains in the balance as the Astros await test results from Sunday.

“Obviously, it adds a little bit of a wrinkle there,” Click said. “We would definitely prioritize having it here. The idea of having to play an additional home game on the road like we’re having to do already with (the Angels) definitely undercuts some of the home-field advantage.

“Obviously the safety of the players and staff, both the A’s and our own, is paramount, so we’ll deal with what we have to deal with to get this game in, but obviously it would be great to get it here in Houston.”

Left-hander Framber Valdez (3-2, 2.35 ERA) would start the series opener for Houston on Tuesday. He recorded a career-high 11 strikeouts in his previous start, allowing four runs on six hits and two walks over seven innings in an 11-4 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Aug. 24.

Valdez has won each of his previous three starts, posting a 2.61 ERA while notching 21 strikeouts over 20 2/3 innings with opponents slugging just .288 against him. Valdez is 0-2 with a 10.50 ERA over four career appearances (one start) against the Rangers, with each outing coming last season.

The Rangers are expected to go with right-hander Luis Garcia (0-1, 5.40 ERA) as an opener. Garcia, an eight-year veteran, has made six appearances this season, all in relief, and he has exceeded one inning in just one of those outings.

Right-hander Jordan Lyles (1-3, 9.25 ERA) is expected to follow Garcia to the mound.

Lyles, a first-round selection by the Astros in the 2008 draft, spent his first three seasons in Houston and compiled a 14-29 record and 5.35 ERA over 72 appearances (65 starts).

Lyles has scuffled in his first season with the Rangers, surrendering at least three earned runs in each of his five starts while posting a 10.07 ERA and allowing a 1.018 OPS in those outings.

Lyles has made two appearances (one start) against his first organization and is 1-0 with a 2.16 ERA in his career. While pitching for the Milwaukee Brewers last Sept. 3, Lyles allowed two runs on six hits with two strikeouts over 6 1/3 innings in a 4-2 victory over the visiting Astros.

The Rangers absorbed their fourth consecutive series loss Sunday while dropping the rubber match of a three-game series against the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers. Texas held second place in the AL West on Aug. 15 but has since dropped 12 of 14 games to fall out of contention.

That tumble down the standings made the Rangers sellers at the trade deadline, and Texas jettisoned a trio of veterans on Monday: left-hander Mike Minor (to the Athletics) plus third baseman Todd Frazier and catcher Robinson Chirinos (both to the Mets in separate deals).

–Field Level Media

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