Rangers left-hander Matt Harrison has never beaten the Astros. Dallas Keuchel, a left-hander for the Astros, has never beaten the Rangers. The two will face off on Tuesday night in the second game of a three-game series at Minute Maid Park.
Keuchel has made five starts against the Rangers and is 0-2 with a 5.75 ERA against them. He is 0-1 with a 4.30 ERA in two starts against them at Minute Maid Park.
"Like any lineup, there's guys that can beat you with one swing and guys that can maneuver their way through the lineup," Keuchel said. "They're a good team. I've had some success but also some pretty bad starts against them. They're one of the teams that I kind of look over some more video than I usually do just because they have such power. I'm just going to attack the zone and work offspeed from there."
Harrison is making his fourth start since coming off the disabled list and returning from his back troubles. He pitched 5 1/3 scoreless innings in a 5-0 victory over the Rockies on Thursday in Arlington. Harrison is still working on a few things after his long layoff, like fine-tuning his offspeed pitches and smoothing out his mechanics. Overall, he has felt more comfortable pitching from the stretch rather than full windup.
"There's still room for improvement, but it's getting better every time," Harrison said. "I've got to keep working. Hopefully there is more there than the last time. I'm still tinkering, but I'm getting closer to where I want to be. I'm still trying to get everything back into rhythm."
Harrison is 0-2 with a 5.95 ERA in three starts and two relief appearances against the Astros, and he has lost his only two career starts at Minute Maid Park. They are the only American League team he has not beaten.
"It's something to shoot for, I guess," Harrison said. "As long as we win the game, that's all that matters. But I'd like to pitch deep in the game, give the bullpen a break and do my job. For me, I need to limit the walks, get ahead of hitters, minimize those early runs and get us back in the dugout. Limit the pitch counts. … That's the only way to get deeper into the game."
Rangers: Fielder loves Minute Maid
Rangers first baseman Prince Fielder is trying to get untracked at the plate and Minute Maid Park might be the right spot to make that happen. Going into the three-game series against the Astros, Fielder was hitting .324 in 50 career games at Houston's home park. That was the highest average of any active opponent there with a minimum of 200 plate appearances.
"It's no secret. ... I just hit the ball hard here," Fielder said.
He also had 25 home runs against the Astros, his second most against any opponent and his 80 RBIs are the most. His 15 home runs at Minute Maid Park are the fourth most by an opponent. Albert Pujols has hit 24 in Houston.
Astros: Rivalry not there yet, Ryan says
Astros executive advisor Nolan Ryan has been on both sides of the Lone Star Series. And while the Rangers and the Astros vie for Texas supremacy and the Silver Boot Trophy, Ryan said the rivalry really hasn't taken off like it could.
"It hasn't been very competitive, so I think the teams don't view it as a real rivalry, but I think it's just a matter of time," Ryan said. "This is the kind of thing that you hope sometime down the road when they're both competing for the division it'll be a lot more interesting."
The two teams have been playing each other since 2001 with the winner of the season series getting possession of the Silver Boot Trophy. The Rangers have held possession of the Silver Boot since 2007. The Rangers won 17 out of 19 last season after the Astros moved over to the American League West.
• With a left-hander on the mound for the Astros on Tuesday, manager Ron Washington will be looking to get right-handed-hitting Michael Choice into the lineup. He will likely start either in right or left field.
• Astros infielder Jose Altuve went into Monday's game having gone 73 straight games without making an error.
• Rangers outfielder Shin-Soo Choo went into the three-game series hitting .513 away from Arlington. That was the highest road average in the Major Leagues. The highest batting average by a Rangers player on the road was by Mike Hargrove, who hit .352 away from Arlington in 1974.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.