High-powered Astros open four-game series against Rangers

MLB

The Houston Astros will look to push their winning streak to three games when they host the Texas Rangers to open a four-game series on Thursday.

The Houston Astros entered play second in the American League in runs (181), hits (318), doubles (72), batting (.260) and OPS (.749) before banging out 12 hits in a 9-1 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday.

All five of the Astros’ extra-base hits cleared the fence, fitting for a team with five players with at least five home runs: Kyle Tucker (eight), Yordan Alvarez and Yuli Gurriel (seven each), and Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa (five apiece). Tucker, Alvarez and Gurriel all homered Wednesday, as did Jose Altuve and Chas McCormick.

“Homers come in bunches,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “We were going to some ballparks that weren’t home-run friendly and the ones that were like Colorado were extremely cold or it was snowing. It seems like it’s contagious. Guys are getting good pitches to hit and keeping pitchers in the stretch. Hitting’s contagious, and just keep (the homers) coming.”

Right-hander Cristian Javier (3-1, 2.90 ERA) gets the starting nod for the Astros on Thursday.

After stringing together three consecutive scoreless appearances, Javier has allowed eight runs on eight hits and six walks with 12 strikeouts over his past two starts and 10 1/3 innings. The Astros dropped both games, including an 8-4 setback to the Toronto Blue Jays on May 8, a decision that resulted in the first loss of the season for Javier.

In two career starts against the Rangers, Javier is 2-0 with a 2.92 ERA with nine strikeouts against three walks in 12 1/3 innings.

Right-hander Mike Foltynewicz (1-3, 4.50 ERA) will start the series opener for the Rangers. Selected by the Astros in the first round (19th overall) in the 2010 draft, Foltynewicz was 0-1 with a 5.30 ERA over 16 games with the Astros in 2014 before being traded to the Atlanta Braves prior to the 2015 season. He ranks second on the Rangers staff with 40 innings pitched but his 11 home runs allowed are the most in the majors.

The Rangers won three consecutive games behind Foltynewicz prior to his last start against the Seattle Mariners on May 7, when he allowed four runs on six hits and one walk with five strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings.

Foltynewicz will face the Astros for the first time in his career.

After winning seven of nine games to climb back to .500, the Rangers dropped both games of a road interleague set with the San Francisco Giants, including a 4-2 decision on Tuesday. That setback concluded a stretch where the Rangers played for 19 consecutive days, and there were subtle signs in Texas’ performance indicating that Wednesday’s off day came just in the nick of time.

“I think I said it before the game,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said prior to the series finale in San Francisco. “I said our guys didn’t look fatigued but I felt like the 19 games were wearing on us a little bit. But I’m not going to make excuses.”

–Field Level Media

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