The Silver Boot Trophy could change hands for the first time since 2007. The Rangers are 3-6 against the Astros with 10 games to play, putting the Astros in position to win the trophy for the first time since 2006. The two clubs begin a weekend set Friday at Minute Maid Park.
Texas has won the trophy for seven straight seasons. Between 2007-13, the Rangers were 43-12 against the Astros.
"We're just trying to win games every night," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "That's all we're trying to do."
The Silver Boot has been awarded every year since the Rangers and the Astros started playing in Interleague in 2001.
Miles Mikolas, a converted reliever, will take the hill in the opener for the Rangers. The right-hander allowed just two runs in seven innings in a 2-0 loss to the Yankees in his last start. In his previous outing, he allowed eight runs (seven earned) in 4 2/3 innings vs. the A's.
This will be Mikolas' seventh start, and he is still striving for the consistency that Washington seeks from his young players.
"I need to execute pitches to be consistent," Mikolas said. "Change speeds, throw my breaking ball for strikes and obviously establish my fastball. Even with the ups and downs, I don't think my confidence has wavered. I know what I am capable of. Obviously, the goal is to be consistent and at my best every time out."
The Astros return to Houston after a quick three-day road trip to Philadelphia. Prior to that, they finished up a 10-game homestand against Miami, Oakland and Toronto. They won five of the 10 games and will have Brett Oberholtzer on the mound Friday.
The left-hander went seven innings for the second time in his last three starts Sunday against Toronto. He struck out five and gave up six hits and two earned runs.
Another quality start for Oberholtzer on Friday would be his fourth straight. He owns a 3.15 ERA and 1.24 WHIP in his last seven Major League outings.
"He's continued to attack the strike zone," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "He's gained so much confidence in his secondary pitches. I think that's the biggest maturation I've seen over the last two or three starts. He's learned how to be a winning pitcher at the Major League level, doing whatever is it he has to do that given day to give his team the best opportunity to win the game."
Rangers: Soto to be activated
The Rangers are expected to activate catcher Geovany Soto off the disabled list Friday. They are hoping he can stay healthy the rest of the season.
"We need for him to be healthy because we know he can produce and we know he can get pitchers through their game," Washington said. "That's what he can do."
Soto was supposed to be the Rangers' No. 1 catcher from the outset but missed the first half after undergoing surgery to remove torn cartilage in his right knee. He was activated after the All-Star break but played in just three games before suffering a strained right groin muscle.
Astros: Springer's setback "minor"
During his Minor League rehab assignment Wednesday with Class A Quad Cities, George Springer tweaked the strained left quad that has kept him on the disabled list since July 20. He returned to Houston and will be re-evaluated Friday, but Porter said the issue is a minor one.
The plan was to activate Springer for the series opener, but the setback has cost the move at least one day.
"Obviously, with him having to come out of the game yesterday, we'll send him through a workout [Friday] and see how he recovers, and if he doesn't have any setbacks, we'll make a decision at that point whether to activate him or give him more time," Porter said.
Springer was hitting .231 with 20 homers and 51 RBIs in 78 games since being called up in the middle of April. He was the American League Rookie of the Month in May.
• Elvis Andrus is riding a 13-game hit streak, his longest of the season.
• Adrian Beltre is 11-for-27 (.407) with two home runs and six RBIs against the Astros this season. He has a .347 career average against Houston.
Grace Raynor is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.