Astros-Rangers Preview

The Texas Rangers usually have at least two position players

make the All-Star game, but Nelson Cruz is the only one this

year.

The Houston Astros certainly know how dangerous he can be.

Cruz has a 13-game hitting streak against the Astros with homers

in the last four matchups heading into Sunday’s series finale in

Arlington.

Texas (50-37) will see its streak of having more than one

position player in the All-Star game end at five, barring any

injury replacements. Cruz, with team highs of 22 home runs and 66

RBIs, will be the only one at Citi Field.

“He has been the one constant and certainly needed,” manager Ron

Washington told the Rangers’ official website. “He is a big reason

why we are where we are.”

Cruz is hitting .370 with five homers and 17 RBIs during his

streak against the Astros. He also owns a 10-game run against them

at home in which he’s batting .375 with five homers and 11

RBIs.

The right fielder went 3 for 4 on Saturday but the Rangers’

six-game win streak over the Astros ended with a 9-5 defeat.

Jason Castro hit a tiebreaking three-run homer in the seventh

inning as Houston went deep three times and finished with its

highest-scoring effort in 16 games.

“There was a feeling on the bench that we had put together some

pretty good at-bats and that we could break through,” said Castro,

7 for 13 with six RBIs in his last three games against the Rangers

after going 0 for 19 in the first five meetings.

Marc Krauss went 3 for 4 with two RBIs and Brett Wallace reached

base all five times for Houston (32-56), which won for the second

time in nine games.

“Those guys are professionals and they could catch some pitches.

Tonight they caught some,” Washington said. “They swung the bats

well.”

Krauss was 1 for 15 in his career before getting three straight

singles.

“I thought Krauss had tremendous at-bats,” manager Bo Porter

said. “He really grinded it.”

The Rangers are now 16-11 against left-handed starters as they

prepare to face Erik Bedard (3-4, 4.59 ERA), who owns a 6.69 ERA on

the road compared to a 2.98 home mark.

Bedard has gone 2-1 with a 2.92 ERA in his last four outings,

but those all came at home. He yielded two runs over five innings

and did not get a decision in his lone start of the season against

Texas on May 11, an 8-7 home loss.

Cruz is 6 for 19 against Bedard, faring better than Adrian

Beltre (4 for 22) and Elvis Andrus (3 for 17).

Right-hander Justin Grimm (7-6, 5.84) will oppose Bedard. He’s

2-3 with a 9.31 ERA in his last six outings.

Grimm won his lone start against Houston in his major league

debut last June 16, yielding three runs over six innings of an 8-3

home victory.

The Rangers will likely activate right-hander Joakim Soria on

Sunday. The former Kansas City closer hasn’t pitched since 2011 due

to elbow ligament replacement surgery.