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One of the most compelling division races left in the 2023 Major League Baseball season is the American League West. In the AL West, three teams are separated by just one game, with two of those teams being the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers. On Tuesday, those Texas teams will meet for the second game of a three-game series, with huge implications in the division title race.
The Houston Astros are coming into Tuesday night off of a 13-6 win over the Texas Rangers on Monday night. Thanks in part to that win, the Astros are tied with the Seattle Mariners for the top spot in the AL West heading into this contest. With the Astros sending their ace to the mound for this game, they have to be confident that they can secure a second straight win over Texas to extend their lead over the Rangers in their division.
Framber Valdez will take the ball and start this game for the Astros on Tuesday night. He enters this game with a 10-9 record and an ERA of 3.38, as he is one of the few names still on the board in the race for the AL Cy Young. With Valdez facing another pitcher who was in consideration for the Cy Young award in the American League for much of this year, he will need to be at or near his best to help his team win tonight.
Meanwhile, the offense of the Astros will aim to continue to shine after putting up 13 runs just one night ago. After struggling to score consistently against the New York Yankees over the weekend, the Astros broke out offensively on Monday. Another performance like that at the plate could help the Astros to start to run away with this division, even if the Mariners and Rangers are going to fight to the very end of this season.
For the Texas Rangers, the pressure is starting to build in the race for the AL West championship. Texas led this division for much of the year, but they are now in third place after losing four of their last five games. Here, they give the ball back to their ace, who is returning from an injury and hoping to help the Rangers get a much-needed win to bolster their division title hopes.
Nathan Eovaldi has not pitched for the Rangers since July 18, as he has been on the IL due to a forearm injury. The team has deemed him healthy enough to pitch in this crucial game against the Astros. However, there are concerns with how Eovaldi will perform as he gets set to take on a lethal Houston offense without any live game experience in about six weeks.
For the Rangers, the key to this game will be putting up runs to help Eovaldi’s cause against Houston. Doing so will not be easy against a pitcher that has been as good as Valdez has throughout this season. But if the Rangers can get on the board early and can continue to deliver runs, it will greatly reduce the pressure on Eovaldi to be great right away after returning from his stint on the injured list.
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Jay Sanin is a sports bettor and writer from New York. He has been handicapping since the moment he was old enough to gamble legally, with his specialties being niche sports like the WNBA and XFL. He’s been told he has a voice for radio. He also has a face for radio.More info on Jay Sanin
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