Nathan Eovaldi returns to start for Rangers vs. rival Astros

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Field Level Media
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Jul 18, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA; Texas Rangers starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi (17) delivers a pitch to the Tampa Bay Rays during the first inning at Globe Life Field.
Jul 18, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA; Texas Rangers starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi (17) delivers a pitch to the Tampa Bay Rays during the first inning at Globe Life Field.
Image: Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

Nathan Eovaldi will take the mound for the first time in seven weeks when the Texas Rangers face the Houston Astros on Tuesday in Arlington, Texas.

Eovaldi's right arm is certainly needed after Houston mauled Texas pitching for five homers and 16 hits in Monday's 13-6 victory in the opener of the three-game series.

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Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said after the debacle that Eovaldi will be activated prior to Tuesday's game. The 33-year-old hasn't pitched since July 18 due to a right forearm strain.

"We'll keep a close eye on him, trust me," Bochy said of Eovaldi.

Eovaldi is 11-3 with a 2.69 ERA in 19 starts this season. He was named an All-Star for the second time in his career.

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Eovaldi will certainly face a big challenge as Houston has scored at least 13 runs in three of its last eight games.

On Monday, Mauricio Dubon and Jose Altuve twice hit back-to-back homers and rookie Yainer Diaz slammed a three-run blast during a six-run seventh inning that put the Astros ahead for good.

Altuve and Alex Bregman each had four hits and two RBIs for Houston, which clinched the season series with the win. The Astros lead 7-4 with two games remaining.

"When you're playing (the Rangers) and the way the ball is flying out of his ballpark, you have to get all you can," Houston manager Dusty Baker said.

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This will be the 10th career start against the Astros for Eovaldi. He is 3-3 with a 3.83 ERA. Altuve is 8-for-27 with three homers and two doubles against Eovaldi.

Houston halted a three-game slide with Monday's victory and moved into a virtual tie for first in the American League West with the Seattle Mariners. The Rangers are one game back.

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The Texas bullpen was shredded in the opener (nine earned runs over 4 1/3 innings) and shortstop Corey Seager made a costly two-run error in Houston's big seventh inning en route to the Rangers' 13th setback in their past 17 games.

Bochy understands his team is scuffling but he didn't want to make a big deal out of the disastrous day.

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"I don't think you address it," Bochy said. "You come out tomorrow and get ready to play another ballgame. That's all you can do."

Seager did hit two homers for Texas. Mitch Garver and Josh Smith also went deep.

Houston left-hander Framber Valdez (10-9, 3.38 ERA) will be on the mound Tuesday. He had an interesting August while going 2-2 with a 3.67 ERA in six starts.

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Valdez tossed a no-hitter against the Cleveland Guardians on Aug. 1 and later threw seven no-hit innings against the Detroit Tigers on Aug. 25 before being removed. He was pounded for six runs in two other outings.

Valdez, 29, has struggled against Texas this season, going 0-2 with a 6.52 ERA. For his career, he is 6-5 with a 3.05 ERA in 15 appearances (12 starts).

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In the start prior to his no-hitter, Valdez was torched for six runs and eight hits in 3 2/3 innings of a 13-5 home loss to the Rangers.

Marcus Semien (6-for-26) has homered twice against Valdez. Nathaniel Lowe (one homer), Seager and Leody Taveras are all 6-for-20 against him.

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Astros reliever Ryne Stanek injured his right ankle in the bottom of the ninth on Monday while covering first base and was taken off the field on a cart.

"I'm just hoping nothing is broken and nothing is structurally wrong," Baker said. "We have to see, because he could be out a while."

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—Field Level Media