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Apr 4, 2024 7:49 pm

Rangers look to end Astros’ success at Globe Life Field

texas rangers

Josh Smith and Ezequiel Duran are suddenly playing greater roles than expected for the Texas Rangers, who open a four-game series against the visiting Houston Astros on Friday.

The matchup marks the first meeting between the teams since Texas won last season’s American League Championship Series 4-3. The road team won all seven games in the series.

The Rangers have struggled against their divisional rival in recent years at Globe Life Field in Arlington. The Astros have won eight straight at the ballpark, including the postseason.

Smith and Duran were role players for last season’s championship squad, but both will likely see an increase in playing time after All-Star third baseman Josh Jung suffered a fractured right wrist on Monday.

Jung’s original estimated six-week timeline to return was amended to eight to 10 weeks after his surgery.

“He did have a good surgery and they were able to repair the damage,” Rangers general manager Chris Young said. “We still expect he will have a full recovery. We are just going to be more cautious with the timeline. It wasn’t the best news, obviously, but he nonetheless will get back at some point this season.”

Smith, a shortstop, drove in two runs and third baseman Duran made a stellar defensive play in Texas’ 4-1 road win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday.

“We’re going to need them,” Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said. “We had this happen last year with injuries and it’s ‘next man up.’ Duran is going to get at-bats; (Smith) is swinging the bat well. They are part of this club. We pick up and move on. One thing this club doesn’t focus on is what’s happened in the past. It’s focus forward. That’s what has to happen.”

Texas will send right-hander Cody Bradford (1-0, 3.60 ERA) to the mound in Friday’s series opener. Bradford, 26, allowed two runs on three hits over five innings in an 11-2 win over the Chicago Cubs last Saturday.

Bradford is 0-0 with a 2.00 ERA in three appearances (no starts) against the Astros in his career.

Houston will counter with right-hander Hunter Brown (0-0, 0.00), who allowed one unearned run over four innings in a no-decision against the New York Yankees last Saturday.

Brown, 25, has gone 2-1 with a 1.59 ERA in three career starts versus Texas.

The Astros begin the series after taking two of three against the Toronto Blue Jays, including an 8-0 win on Wednesday.

Designated hitter Yordan Alvarez entered the game 3-for-24 before matching his career high with four hits, including two homers.

“It was a matter of time,” Astros manager Joe Espada said. “But any time he can put some good swings like that and hit some balls hard, it’s a good sign. That’s exactly what we need. Especially doing it with people on base. I think it’s contagious and spread throughout the lineup the whole night.”

A two-time All-Star, Alvarez hit .293 with 31 homers and 97 RBIs last season. Wednesday’s performance marked the 16th multi-home run game of Alvarez’s career.

“I always say, for me, he’s up there with the best hitters in the game,” Houston second baseman Jose Altuve said. “When he gets hot, he does crazy things.”

–Field Level Media

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