Astros visit Rangers looking to widen division lead

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Astros visit Rangers looking to widen division lead

Texas blanked the Astros 5-0 on Thursday at Globe Life Park in the opener of a four-game series between American League West rivals, a triumph that kept the Rangers on the periphery of the AL wild-card chase and, by proxy, in the mix to acquire talent before August. He recorded 11 strikeouts - all on the four-seam fastball - while allowing just six hits and two walks. After going on a serious charge that got them into second in the West and within 5 ½ games of the Astros, they flatlined a little, falling back to third and 9 games out.

Cole is 4-2 with a 3.72 ERA over eight career starts against the Rangers with 78 strikeouts in 48 1/3 innings. Astros are third when it comes to covering the spread at 63.3 percent but the Rangers are second in baseball in units won against the spread at plus-15.8.The Rangers and Astros go up against pitchers who can suffer from high-contact and hard-contact rates.

Texas' role as a contender could facilitate adding personnel at the trading deadline, a move that would not only bolster their postseason hopes but validate the style of play that put the Rangers in contention in the first place. Arlington in the heat means an expectation the ball could fly out of the park. The Texas Rangers have won six of their last nine games when scoring four or more runs.

Rangers: Hunter Pence, out since June 17 (right groin strain), started a rehab assignment by going 0 for 3 with a walk as the DH for Double-A Frisco.

TOP PERFORMERS: Gallo leads the Rangers with 20 home runs and is slugging.640.

In the interim and starting against the Rangers, the Astros will keep pushing forward with another postseason berth and World Series championship in their sights and as their goals. Houston rolled off seven wins in eight games before the break, while the Rangers have lost six of eight.

Rougned Odor, still hitting.198, made it 4-0 when he drove in two runs with the first of his two doubles. Back the Rangers to cover +1.5 at -125. When looking ahead, this looks like the best opportunity for the Rangers to get a win, as they have the best of the pitching match-up here. The over-under for total runs scored is 11. Finally, both teams average over five runs per game.

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