The Astros drew first blood in their weekend MLB odds series at Texas, and now the Rangers look to even the set Saturday night as small favorites against Houston.
Purely coincidental, I'm sure, but one can't help but notice that the recent troubles of the Texas Rangers all began when the franchise let Nolan Ryan resign after a front office power struggle initiated by current team president Jon Daniels.
Following an injury-plagued 2014 season, injuries are already beginning to mount for the Rangers this year following Friday's 5-1 setback to the Houston Astros. Starting pitcher Derek Holland was forced from the game after just one inning and appears headed to a 2-month DL stint for a strained left shoulder, and outfielders Shin-Soo Choo and Ryan Rua also couldn't finish the matchup to sit on the doubtful list for the second game on Saturday (8:05 PM ET).
Texas officially opened at -150 on the MLB betting odds board, but fall in the -130 to -140 range after overnight action. Roberto Hernandez is scheduled to pitch for Houston opposite Texas' Yovani Gallardo, the 'over' a slight favorite for an 8½ run total.
Astros Debut For Hernandez; Arlington Debut For Gallardo
Hernandez dons a Houston uniform officially for the first time Saturday evening, adding to his collection of teams that now totals five since 2012. The big Dominican won his first two career starts on this mound without allowing an earned run over 14 innings, but has since lost three straight while surrendering 18 ER in 24 IP (6.75 ER).
Gallardo made his Rangers debut this past Monday and was stung for four runs in his four innings of a losing effort at Oakland. He's now set to pitch for the first time ever in Arlington, but has plenty of experience vs. the Astros -- 13-3 lifetime, 2.69 ERA -- dating to his Milwaukee days when the two clubs were NL Central rivals.
Umpire Notes, Mother Nature & A Free Pick
Crew chief Jeff Nelson is in line to work the plate in Game 2, his second dish assignment of the young season. The 18-year veteran umpire worked the season opener this past Monday in Miami, which fell short of a 7 run total, and is coming off a 2014 campaign in which his contests went 11-20-2 (O/U/P).
Cloudy skies and the thermometer sitting in the low-70s is how we should begin the game, a 10 mph southeast wind also in the mix. Rain clouds will move in overnight and thunderstorms threaten Sunday's series finale, but that's something to worry about then.
Yes, Astros bats woke up Friday after being shut down by Cleveland hurlers earlier this week, but I simply do not trust Hernandez. Texas as small home chalk is my free MLB pick on tonight's card.
My MLB Pick: Rangers -130 at Pinnacle Sports