Sports Illustrated
Kate Barrington  |  Wed 3rd Apr   | MLB

It’s been an up and down start for the Houston Astros and the Texas Rangers. Both teams will try to buck the trend in the resumption of their series on Wednesday (8:05 PM EST) at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas.

After dropping their series-opener to the Astros 2-1 on Sunday, the Rangers bounced back with a 6-4 win on Tuesday to level things up at 1-1. Texas has been playing well since that forgettable 12-4 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Opening Day, but manager Chris Woodward believes his guys can still improve as the season progresses.

The Astros, meanwhile, found themselves in an opening week funk as they dropped four of their last five games since they routed the Tampa Bay Rays 5-1 on March 29.

Houston looks to address their issues one step at a time by sending right-handed pitcher Gerrit Cole on the mound on Wednesday. He will be up against lefty Mike Minor, the first pitcher to start twice for the Rangers this season. The Texas Rangers are +157 under the Houston Astros.

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Texas Rangers Team Preview

Thanks to Tuesday’s victory, the Rangers are over .500 for the second time this year. For a team that never had a winning record in 2018, the Rangers 3-2 record is something worth celebrating even if it’s way too early in the season.

Still, there’s no denying the Rangers’ opening-week resurgence. They are a top-10 team in batting average (.238), RBIs (23) and run scored (24), while doing an excellent fielding job. In fact, they just set a franchise record for 38th consecutive innings to start a season without an error.

But the biggest difference-maker for Texas so far is their ability to win close games. After learning their lessons on Opening Day the hard way, the Rangers somehow and someway found a way to come through with game-winning plays at the clutch.

Joey Gallo’s pivotal two-run single in the seventh-inning just showed the scrappiness this Rangers squad has this year.

Houston Astros Team Preview

The Astros, on the other hand, is a different story. Everybody knows how extremely deep their lineup is. They have All-Star-caliber sluggers and pitchers from top to bottom of their roster. That’s why it’s quite perplexing to see them struggle like this in their last games.

Since that eventful Opening Day win, Houston seems to have run out of ammo at the plate. In five games, they are batting .219 with 35 hits and 11 RBIs. Their inability to drive runners to home plate are biting them game after game.

On Tuesday, the Rangers were a 1 of 11 with runners in scoring position, showing how hard it has been for their sluggers to create scoring opportunities this season.

Texas Rangers vs. Houston Astros Betting Pick

Trying to stop the bleeding from the inside, the Astros will have Cole his second start of the season. The 28-year-old righty struck out 10 batters but allowed four runs in a losing cause against Tampa last March 29.

It’s worth noting that Cole recorded 40 of his career-high 276 strikeouts against the Rangers last season, making him a legit problem to the Rangers sluggers.

Minor is also seeking his first win of the season after a poor performance (three Ks and four runs in 4.2 innings) in his last outing. The 31-year-old vet had a good run against the Astros last year, striking out 23 batters in 27.2 innings.

The pitchers look solid, but again the game will boil down to whichever team comes up with the winning play in the late innings. The Astros are a sleeping giant. They can explode and tear the game apart at any point of the match.

However, I feel the Rangers players are playing with chips on their shoulder this year. They are hungry to prove that they can win games with less talent but more hustle and heart.

Bet the Texas Rangers +157 under the Houston Astros.

Check out all of our MLB previews & picks here

Kate Barrington