Friday, July 23, 2021 08:10 PM (ET)
Last Meeting ( Jun 16, 2021 ) Texas 4, Houston 8

By almost every statistical measure the Houston Astros are one of the best teams in baseball, and at 19 games over .500 they have a viable shot at claiming home-field advantage should they maintain their current pace and qualify for the postseason.

But the Astros' ascent up the standings continues to be undermined by what could have been, with their 5-4 home loss to the Cleveland Indians Wednesday representing the latest example.

While Houston, which will host the Texas Rangers for a three-game series starting Friday, has completed six series sweeps this season including four four-gamers, the loss to the Indians marked the seventh in a finale of a series in which it was on the verge of sweeping.

Houston has dropped the finale of three four-game series that it needed one more win to sweep, and the Indians' loss was the fourth one-run loss in the finale of a series it could have swept.

"This is the (seventh) time we've had a chance to sweep and that final game gets away from us," Astros manager Dusty Baker said. "We welcome the off day and come back with fresh minds and bodies. Texas has played us pretty tough, especially in their park. So we've just got to come back and play better baseball."

Right-hander Jake Odorizzi (3-5, 4.09 ERA) will start the series opener for the Astros Friday. He suffered the loss in his previous outing after allowing four runs on six hits and four walks in a 10-1 setback to the Chicago White Sox on July 17, but has pitched well since returning from the injured list on May 29, going 3-3 with a 2.95 ERA over nine appearances and eight starts.

Odorizzi made one relief appearance against the Rangers in a 6-3 win on June 15, allowing two hits with three strikeouts over four scoreless innings. He is 4-1 with a 3.26 ERA over nine career appearances (eight starts) against Texas with 46 strikeouts over 47 innings.

Left-hander Kolby Allard (2-7, 4.06) has the starting assignment for the Rangers. Allard will make his 20th appearance and 10th consecutive start since joining the rotation May 27. He is 1-7 with a 4.44 ERA as a starter this season and suffered his fifth consecutive loss after allowing season highs in earned runs allowed (five) over five innings against Toronto on July 18.

Allard is 1-2 with a 2.25 ERA over five career appearances (two starts) against the Astros, including a pair of scoreless relief appearances this season. In his previous start at Minute Maid Park on Sept. 2, 2020, Allard allowed two runs on two hits and two walks with four strikeouts over seven innings in the Rangers' 2-1 loss.

Texas fell 7-5 at the Detroit Tigers on Thursday, falling to 0-7 since the All-Star break while suffering a ninth consecutive loss overall. The Rangers, 3-6 against the Astros this season, have dropped five consecutive series.

"It's a hard time right now, but we're not doing ourselves a favor at times, though," Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. "We've got to take ownership."

--Field Level Media

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