The Texas Rangers, who went into the All-Star break at a season-worst eight games under .500, are set to visit the Miami Marlins on Thursday afternoon.
The one-game “series” is a makeup contest necessitated by the MLB lockout and the delayed start of the season.
Texas, which has lost four straight games, is set to start right-hander Jon Gray (6-4, 3.71 ERA). Miami, which has lost three straight games, had not confirmed a starter as of midday Wednesday.
It remains to be seen if the Rangers can play with renewed vigor. This past Sunday, after getting swept in four games by the red-hot Seattle Mariners, Rangers manager Chris Woodward seemed thankful for the All-Star break.
“We need a few days off,” Woodward said. “Our guys are tired. They need to rest their bodies and collect their thoughts.”
A lot of what happens on Thursday will depend on Gray, who is 3-3 with a 4.19 ERA in seven career starts against the Marlins.
Gray has yet to win in Miami, going 0-2 with a 3.93 ERA in three career starts at the Marlins’ ballpark.
This is Gray’s first season in Texas after signing a four-year, $56 million contract, leaving Colorado as a free agent.
Texas is 9-7 with Gray on the mound. He has six quality starts, including a brilliant performance his last time out, on July 13 against the Oakland A’s. In that game, Gray allowed just one hit and no walks, striking out nine batters in seven scoreless innings.
Offensively, Texas ranks 11th in the majors in average runs scored per game. The Rangers are tied for fifth in homers per game.
The Rangers are led by shortstop Corey Seager, who leads the team in homers (22), RBIs (52) and OPS (.804). Second baseman Marcus Semien has 13 homers and a .697 OPS, leading the team in steals (17) and runs (50). Both are new to the Rangers this year after Seager signed for $325 million, and Semien signed for $175 million.
The Rangers could be facing right-hander Pablo Lopez, who hasn’t pitched since earning a no-decision on July 13 against Pittsburgh, allowing one run in five innings.
Lopez (6-4, 2.86 ERA) is one win away from his career high in victories. He is 24-25 in five years in the majors.
The Marlins are 11-7 this year when starting Lopez, who has never faced the Rangers.
Lopez tends to tire in the second half of seasons. For his career, he is 17-15 with a 3.47 ERA in the first half. He is 1-6 with a 4.96 ERA in the second half.
His home-park trend is more favorable, showing a 2.85 ERA in 42 starts. He has a 4.90 ERA in 38 career road starts.
Offensively, the Marlins are tied for 17th in the majors in homers per game. The Marlins are 24th in runs scored. They scored just one run in getting swept in three games by Philadelphia last weekend.
“Things look really bad when you’re not swinging the bats,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said.
Miami has four players with double-figure homers: All-Star second baseman Jazz Chisholm Jr. (14), left fielder Jorge Soler (13), first baseman Jesus Aguilar (11), and center fielder Jesus Sanchez (11).
However, Chisholm is on the injured list along with Marlins infielder Jon Berti, who has 28 steals, the most in the majors.
–Field Level Media