The first thing that comes to mind when I think about the Rays coming to Houston for a series witht the Astros? Will Ed Wade and Andrew Friedman have an uncomfortable passing in a hallway where Friedman wonders if he’ll be offered Wade’s job come the end of the season, and Wade wonders if he’s looking at his successor? Wow, I wish I could see that happen. *awkward*
The second thing that comes to mind? Epic battle of the JuiceBox teams. I wonder if leaving Tropicana Field to play at Minute Maid Park makes the Rays feel more comfortable or Â like they’re cheating on their home juice? I’m hoping they feel out of sorts. I’d bet the Astros are too, but that’s pretty unlikely given that the Rays have got to be one of the most underappreciated teams in baseball.
The Rays are 41-34 (.547) and only 3.5 games back from the Red Sox in the AL East right now. They’re in striking distance and certainly have a lot more to lose in Houston than the hometown team. So who will we see and what do we expect over the next three days?
Friday, 7:05pm CDT
James Shields (7-4, 2.40 ERA) takes the mound versus Wandy Rodriguez (5-3, 2.88 ERA). Wandy is HOT right now. He hasn’t allwoed a run in the last twelve innings he’s pitched since his return from the DL, so he a force to be reckoned with right now. Seven consecutive quality starts ain’t too shabby. Shields is coming off a complete game that resulted in W so he’s nothing to sneeze at right now either. This should be an exciting battle of pitching. In addition, the Astros will welcome Hunter Pence back into the lineup which should bolster the hitting that we saw two nights ago in Arlington.
Saturday, 6:05pm CDT
RHP, Wade Davis (6-5, 4.57 ERA) is coming off seven days of rest. He’s good on the road this year (3-2) and will pose a challenge. But if I had to pick, I’d say Bud Norris (4-5, 3.26 ERA) is the better of this matchup. Studly, Cudly, Budly had a rough last outing in LA when a pinch hitter ruined his one hit shutout. He won’t want to see a repeat of that, especially given that his last two starts ended with 1-0 losses for the ‘Stros. Look for him to be fierce, focused and determined.
Sunday, 1:05pm CDT
Jeff Niemann (2-4, 4.82ERA) got his second win of the season in his last outing by allowing no runs against Milwaukee. Houston hitters will want to look out for his wicked curve ball. Meanwhile, J.A. Happ (3-9, 5.33 ERA) has something to prove. He’s got nine more losses already this season than any season prior. His last outing was short, only 2 2/3 innings, because of some struggles resulting in him giving up seven runs on eight hits. He’s likely to still be shaken and the first inning should be interesting to say the least. Don’t expect miracles from Happ, but I’m willing to be we’ll see a better pitcher than Monday’s outing against the Rangers.
I’ll be at Sunday afternoon’s game hoping to see some solid pitching, but I’m looking for some power hitting to come back to Houston. Let’s go, ‘Stros!
Terri Schlather (AGirlintheSouth) is the Senior Houston Astros Writer for Aerys Sports. You can read her Astros blog at www.talesfromthejuicebox.com, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow her on twitter @agirlinthesouth.