The Texas Rangers might not be a playoff-caliber team this season, but they put together an impressive three-game weekend stretch in Houston, sweeping the defending World Series champion Astros for the first time since May 2016.
The three wins allowed the Rangers to climb within 22 games of Houston in the American League West, but Texas looked like the better team in the series. The Rangers had lost eight straight against their Texas rivals.
Texas completed the sweep with a 4-3 victory over Houston on Sunday afternoon, in the process becoming just the third team in major league history to strike out 19 times in a game and win.
"This group of guys, they want to play baseball," Texas manager Jeff Banister said. "I think their sanctuary is out on the field. You see it in the energy and by how they play. They put a lot of that stuff behind them for the game."
The Rangers will look to continue the momentum they built in Houston when they head to Phoenix for a quick two-game interleague series against the Arizona Diamondbacks starting Monday at Chase Field.
The opener will be the first game between the teams since 2015, when Arizona won three of four, with the clubs splitting two at Chase Field. Texas and Arizona will meet in a two-game set on Aug. 13-14 at Globe Life Park.
The Rangers will send out left-hander Martin Perez (2-4, 7.08 ERA) in the series opener to oppose Arizona left-hander Robbie Ray (3-2, 4.90).
Texas is 4-4 against National League clubs in 2018 and has played just one road series this year, losing twice to the Dodgers on June 12-13 in Los Angeles.
The Diamondbacks head home for the start of a nine-game homestand after beating the San Diego Padres 5-4 on Sunday to complete a three-game road sweep and claw within a half-game of the Dodgers atop the National League West.
Eduardo Escobar had the day off Sunday after making his debut for the Diamondbacks following his acquisition from the Minnesota Twins. Escobar played third base and went 2-for-4 with a walk on Saturday and scored twice, with one of his hits a league-leading 38th double in the ninth inning.
"If I hit a double every day, that's good -- I'll take that every day," said Escobar, who has been dubbed a "doubles machine." "But the most important thing is playing hard. I'm so happy to be here and helping this team win."
Perez will make his ninth start of the season while working on his regular four days of rest after a no-decision in Texas' 6-5 loss to Oakland on Wednesday in Arlington. He has quality starts in two of his three outings since his return from the disabled list early this month.
Perez has made one career start against the Diamondbacks, taking the loss in a 5-3 Arizona win on May 27, 2013, at Chase Field. He has gone 6-6 with a 4.03 ERA in 18 career starts in interleague play.
Meanwhile, Ray did not factor in the decision in his most recent start, allowing one run and four hits in seven innings on July 25 at the Chicago Cubs. He will be looking for his first win at Chase Field since March 30 vs. the Colorado Rockies. He has suffered four winless starts at home during that stretch..
Ray has amassed a 3-6 record with a 4.76 ERA in 13 interleague starts. He is 1-1 with a 5.73 ERA in two career starts versus the Rangers and will be facing Texas for the first time since July 7, 2015.