|Astros set sights on milestones as Rangers visit|
The Houston Astros will begin their final homestand of the regular season on Tuesday within reach of a third consecutive American League West pennant and their third successive 100-win season.
Houston (98-53) will host the Texas Rangers (74-77) at Minute Maid Park in the opener of a two-game set that will complete the 2019 Silver Boot Series. The Astros have won 11 of 17 meetings against Texas this season and ended Sunday with a 7 1/2-game lead on Oakland in the division.
Houston is five wins shy of matching its franchise record of 103 victories, set last season. The Astros will complete this homestand against the Los Angeles Angels in a three-game set this weekend.
The return of shortstop Carlos Correa should bolster the Astros' immediate goals.
Correa, who hasn't played since Aug. 19 because of back discomfort, was expected to be activated from the 10-day injured list in advance of the series with the Rangers. He is slashing .278/.358/.556 with 19 home runs and 56 RBIs in just 72 games in what has been another injury-marred season for the 2015 AL Rookie of the Year. Correa has played in 291 of the Astros' 475 games since the start of the 2017 season.
"It will be borderline like a spring training schedule with in-season responsibilities," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said on MLB.com, referencing his handling of Correa this week. "He may play six innings and come out, even if it's not a blowout. To me, it's a good sign. I'll feel a ton better when we get the full group together and finish out the season."
The Astros are also anticipating the return of right-handed relievers Ryan Pressly (knee) and Brad Peacock (shoulder) sometime soon.
Right-hander Justin Verlander (18-6, 2.58 ERA) will continue his pursuit of 3,000 career strikeouts Tuesday. He is 19 shy of becoming the 18th pitcher in history to reach that benchmark and is averaging 8.9 strikeouts per start this season. He is just 15 strikeouts shy of matching his single-season high of 290, set last season.
He is 8-2 with a 1.93 ERA over 12 starts in the second half of the season.
Verlander is 17-8 with a 2.80 ERA over 30 career starts against Texas, including a 4-0 record and 2.70 ERA over five starts this season.
Right-hander Lance Lynn (14-10, 3.72 ERA) will start the series opener for the Rangers.
Lynn is 0-4 with a 3.76 ERA over his past seven starts and hasn't won since Aug. 2 against Detroit. The Rangers have dropped each of his past seven starts.
Lynn is 5-3 with a 2.29 ERA over 10 career appearances (nine starts) against the Astros, including a 1-2 record and 3.00 ERA over three starts in 2019. He has recorded 31 strikeouts against five walks over 21 innings against Houston this season.
The Rangers have dropped four of five games. Their final road trip on the schedule will conclude with three games in Oakland. Texas hasn't won a road series against a team with a winning record this season.
--Field Level Media