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5:05 PM PT6:05 PM MT7:05 PM CT8:05 PM ET20:05 ET0:05 GMT8:05 5:05 PM MST7:05 PM EST7:35 PM VEN4:05 UAE (+1)7:05 PM CT, July 13, 2019
Globe Life Park in Arlington, Arlington, Texas  Attendance: 42,452

Rangers seek sweep of Astros as Smith returns

In the hours immediately after the Houston Astros activated reliever Joe Smith from the 60-day injured list, their bullpen surrendered five runs over three innings in a fall-from-ahead loss in Arlington, Texas, that showcased a measure of need for the side-arming, veteran right-hander.

Smith, sidelined by offseason surgery for a ruptured Achilles tendon suffered last December, could return Saturday against the Texas Rangers, providing the Astros additional depth in a bullpen that has been stretched thin in part by an inconsistent back end of the rotation.

In Smith, the Astros welcome back a specialist who enables them to target specific pockets of hitters. Houston has suffered some wear with its relievers, with right-handers Will Harris and Hector Rondon surrendering two runs each in the Astros' 9-8 loss to the Rangers on Friday.

Smith finished 5-1 with a 3.74 ERA over 56 appearances last season, his first with the Astros.

"I consider him a weapon," Astros manager AJ Hinch told "He's really tough on right-handed hitters. He's been able to be better in the last couple of years against lefties than he has traditionally in his career. I like that part of it."

Left-hander and All-Star Wade Miley (7-4, 3.28 ERA) will start for the Astros on Saturday. Houston is only 5-4 over his last nine starts despite Miley posting a 3.04 ERA during that span.

Miley is 3-5 with a 5.56 ERA over 10 career starts against the Rangers, recording a 4-2 win against them at Minute Maid Park on May 9 after allowing two runs on two hits and two walks with seven strikeouts over six innings.

All-Star left-hander Mike Minor (8-4, 2.54) will work opposite Miley as the Rangers attempt to clinch the four-game series. Minor is 3-0 with a 2.18 ERA over his last six starts, limiting opposing batters to a .174 average.

He is 3-3 with a 4.26 ERA over 13 career appearances (10 starts) against the Astros, including a 1-1 mark and 2.25 ERA over two starts this season.

The Rangers claimed the second game of their four-game set with the Astros by showcasing most of what has made them a surprise team in the American League. After each of their starters recorded at least one hit in the series opener, the Rangers bashed five home runs against Houston pitching to win Friday, including one each in the seventh and eighth innings.

When Texas needed to manufacture a run against Houston closer Roberto Osuna, they parlayed an Elvis Andrus single and stolen base plus a bloop single from Danny Santana into a walk-off victory.

Texas stands poised to win all three home series against the Astros this season with one more victory this weekend, doing so with a flair that is unmistakable.

"They threw out their big guns against us, and we seemed to pressure all of them," Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. "It just shows the versatility of our team. We do have a lot of power. When we need speed we obviously have a lot of stolen bases. It's cool to be able to beat teams in so many different ways.

"It says a lot about our guys. Everybody on our roster feels like they're going to contribute."

--Field Level Media

Updated July 13, 2019

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