The Rangers and Astros are poised for a BIG series

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In a year with far fewer exciting playoff races than most, we actually get a high-leverage series with playoff implications this week: the Houston Astros face the Texas Rangers in Arlington for four games starting tonight.

Scott Kazmir will take the mound against Cole Hamels in tonight’s contest. Each of these guys started someplace else this year, with the Astros picking up Kazmir as a means of shoring up the rotation with an eye on the playoffs. Perhaps internally the Rangers knew that getting Hamels from the Phillies would aid them in their push for the playoffs in 2015, but most outsiders assumed that was a play for next year. Now, Hamels stands to help pull the Rangers, who are already in playoff position, to within a half game of the division-leading Astros and Kazmir looks to fight-off a hard-charging Rangers club that was eight games back in the beginning of August before sweeping the Astros in Houston.

Since (and including) that series, the Rangers are 24-14, the Astros are 17-20. Some might say that gives the Rangers the momentum, but in baseball everyone knows that momentum is the next day’s starting pitcher.

After tonight, the next days starting pitchers are Collin McHugh vs. Martin Perez on Tuesday, Dallas Keuchel vs. Derek Holland on Wednesday and Lance McCullers vs. Colby Lewis on Thursday.

This is not the last series between these teams — they meet in Houston for a three game set starting a week from Friday — but this is, by far, the biggest series between baseball’s two Texas teams ever.

Joey Gallo turns his apartment into a batting cage

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While everything going on these days — the illnesses, the stress on the medical system, the stay-at-home-orders, the loss of mobility and the loss of work — hits poor and working people harder than it does well-paid professional athletes, the jocks have their own set of challenges too.

For example, Dallas, like almost everyplace else, is under stay-at-home order in response to the pandemic. That means that Texas Rangers slugger Joey Gallo can’t go to Globe Life Field and take his hacks in the batting cage as usual. So what’s a guy in his position to do?

Why, set up a cage in his de-luxe apartment in the sky:

Given how hard Gallo hits the ball, I’m sort of freaking out watching this, worrying that one bad bit of partial contact is going to shatter his windows. But I guess that’s a Joey Gallo problem.