The Texas Rangers worked their way back over .500 during the weekend before a disappointing loss brought them back to the even mark. The Rangers will try to get back over the hump at the expense of another team attempting to work its way up the standings when they host the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday for the opener of their four-game series.
Texas has received strong starting pitching during its recent run of seven wins in nine games, with an average of 2.4 runs allowed in the victories. The Rangers pounded their way to 10-4 triumphs in each of the first two games of their weekend set against Seattle to improve to 34-33 but fell off on Sunday, dropping a 7-3 decision. The Blue Jays were one game under .500 at 32-33 after a win over Tampa Bay on Wednesday but can’t seem to get over the hump as they lost two of three to the Chicago White Sox over the weekend to fall to 33-35. Toronto will try to start its seven-game road trip strong when Marco Estrada heads to the mound on Monday against Rangers rookie Austin Bibens-Dirkx.
TV: 8:05 p.m. ET, Sportsnet, TVA (Toronto), FSN Southwest (Texas)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Blue Jays RH Marco Estrada (4-5, 4.54 ERA) vs. Rangers RH Austin Bibens-Dirkx (2-0, 3.28)
Estrada is trying to snap a string of three straight losses, including a setback against Tampa Bay on Tuesday in which he was knocked around for six runs and 12 hits in 3 1/3 innings. The Californian has surrendered a total of 17 runs and 28 hits - four homers - in 12 2/3 frames over his last three turns. Estrada’s last win came against Texas on May 27, when he allowed one run and struck out eight over six innings.
Bibens-Dirkx recorded his first win as a starter at Washington on June 11, when he held the Nationals to one run and three hits in seven frames. The 32-year-old has yet to allow more than three runs in any of his seven appearances. Bibens-Dirkx struck out a season-high five in four innings of relief but allowed three runs and four hits at Toronto on May 26.
1. Rangers LHP Cole Hamels (oblique) threw in the bullpen on Sunday and is expected to make a rehab start at Double-A Frisco on Wednesday.
2. Toronto DH Kendrys Morales has homered in three of his last four games.
3.Texas CF Carlos Gomez is 4-for-12 with two homers, eight RBIs and four runs scored in his last three contests.
PREDICTION: Blue Jays 7, Rangers 4