The Texas Rangers and Atlanta Braves complete a three-game interleague series Sunday afternoon at Turner Field
Texas Rangers at Atlanta Braves
Texas has won the first two games of the series and expanded its lead in the American League West to 1.5 games with a 5-4 victory over Atlanta yesterday. “A great victory for sure,” said Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus. “We have been grinding it out this whole road trip. Now we’ve won two games here.” The Rangers have won their last three games and are 3-2 against the National League in 2011. The club has actually won 16 of its last 19 interleague games. Outfielder Josh Hamilton has played a big part in that success, hitting .516 with five home runs and 18 RBI in his last 14 games against NL foes. Texas is 14-12 in day games this season and 59-60 the last three years.
Rangers starting pitcher Alexi Ogando is scheduled to make his 14th start of the season and is coming off his worst start of the year. He suffered his first defeat of the 2011 campaign, allowing six runs and six hits over 1 2/3 innings in a 12-4 road loss to the Yankees. The right-hander has registered a 2-1 record and 3.75 ERA in six away starts, allowing opponents to hit for a .206 average. Ogando produced a 3-0 mark and 0.00 over four relief appearances during interleague play last year. He has never faced the Braves in his career.
Atlanta has committed six errors in the first two games of the series and will be looking to avoid dropping its sixth game in seven contests. The Braves have been held to six hits or fewer in their last six games and managed just four hits last night. At least second baseman Dan Uggla has started to contribute, notching two extra-base hits in a game for the first time this year, coming in with a .177 average. He will need to continue with that success considering that outfielder Jason Heyward is batting .161 with 20 strikeouts in 62 career interleague at-bats. Atlanta is 28-23 versus right-handed starters this year.
Braves starting pitcher Jair Jurrjens owns the NL’s best ERA, but has given up at least three earned runs in two of his past three outings. He is coming off his shortest start of the season, giving up four runs and eight hits over 5 1/3 innings to the Mets on Tuesday. “For his standards, it wasn’t your normal, typical JJ outing,” commented Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez. The right-hander has registered a 4-1 record and 2.29 ERA in five home games, surrendering just a single home run in 35 1/3 frames. Jurrjens hasn’t faced the Rangers with the Braves, but started once against them in his rookie season with Detroit, tallying a 4-1 win. Atlanta has alternated wins and losses in his last four starts.
Bettors will likely back the Braves due to their 12-3 record in Jurrjen’s last 15 home starts, while the Rangers are 16-36 in their last 52 interleague road games against winning teams