MLB: Behind Jon Gray, Rangers look to keep momentum vs. Astros
The Texas Rangers have won five of their past six games and look to continue their hot streak when they square off against the host Houston Astros on Saturday in the third contest of a four-game series.
Texas will send Jon Gray (1-1, 5.73 ERA) to the mound while Houston will counter with fellow right-hander Justin Verlander (5-1, 1.38).
The Rangers evened the series on Friday in a 3-0 win that featured Martin Perez throwing his first complete game since 2014 and just the fourth in the majors this season. Houston took the first game of the series 5-1 on Thursday.
It was the first complete game thrown by a Rangers pitcher since Kyle Gibson on Sept. 16, 2020, on the road against the Astros.
Houston made things interesting in the ninth, as Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker singled with two out. Perez then coaxed Yuli Gurriel into a game-ending flyout.
The Astros managed seven hits off Perez in the loss, with Bregman and Tucker recording two each. Houston also grounded into three double plays. Cristian Javier took the loss for the Astros despite allowing just one run and three hits in six innings of work.
It was the second time in three games that Houston was the victim of complete game. Boston’s Jake Pivetta held the Astros to just two hits in a 5-1 win on Wednesday.
Gray lasted 5 2/3 innings in the Rangers’ 7-4 win at home over Los Angeles on Monday, his first start after skipping a turn in the rotation because of a bad left knee that has forced him to wear a bulky brace. Gray gave up four runs, three of them in the first inning, in the win on eight hits in what was his longest outing of the season.
“I think Gray’s command was off (in the first),” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “He felt great physically. He was able to get to 90 pitches.”
Verlander has won his last four starts, has pitched at least five innings in each of his seven starts this season and has not allowed more than five hits in any game. His most recent outing was on Sunday when he gave up just two hits and three walks in five innings in an 8-0 Houston win in Washington.
Verlander is back at near-full strength after missing all of last season with Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.
“I’ve felt stronger and stronger as the year has gone on and I have learned to manage the soreness that I had after the first few games,” Verlander said. “We’ve stretched things out as we’ve felt like we could, and I feel really good about where I’m at and how I’m pitching.”
The Astros got some good news on Friday on right-hander Jake Odorizzi, who threw from flat ground after sustaining a left leg injury on May 16 against Boston. An MRI showed that Odorizzi has some damage to the tendons and ligaments of his ankle but not to the Achilles.
“A few days ago, I didn’t think there was a chance at this, so we have to be grateful and thankful Odorizzi is back here,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said Friday.
–Field Level Media