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TEX@BOS: Scheppers strikes out three over five

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have had their way with the Astros the last few years, but a young rebuilding Houston club is ready to change its fortunes in the Lone Star rivalry.

The Astros, who were 2-17 against the Rangers last year in their first season together in the American League West, are hoping that begins when the clubs meet for the second time this season Saturday at Globe Life Park. The Rangers have won 12 in a row against the Astros.

The Astros made some offseason additions specifically geared with the Rangers in mind, manager Bo Porter said Friday.

The Astros improved their pitching staff in the winter adding starter Scott Feldman, who threw seven scoreless innings against his former team in Friday's series opener, and relievers Matt Albers, Chad Qualls and Anthony Bass.

"It's extremely important for us to play well against them," Porter said. "You look at what they were able to do against us last year, but I think we're a different ballclub. We'll see what happens as we start out this first series against them.

"When we made some offseason acquisitions, we looked at the Texas Rangers and how we performed against them and made some decisions to put us in better position to compete against them."

Saturday's game will feature two of the young arms both teams are counting on for the future.

Right-hander Jarred Cosart (1-1, 4.09 ERA) will start for the Astros after losing his previous start Monday against the Angels when he allowed five runs in six innings. Rangers right-hander Tanner Scheppers will make his third Major Legaue start and first against Houston, though he has faced them eight times in his career.

He was rocked on Opening Day against the Phillies, allowing seven earned runs on eight hits (one homer) and three walks in four innings. He took the loss again Monday in Boston, but pitched better with nine hits, two earned runs, one walk and three strikeouts in five innings.

"I think I established my fastball a little more," he said. "I was throwing quality strikes and I showed my breaking stuff for strikes and that's kind of the difference. As long as I do that, I'm going to be a ground-ball pitcher. As long as I keep the ball on the ground, I'll be successful more times than not."

Houston's struggles against the Rangers were a big reason why they were 25-51 against the AL West last year.

"Any time you play division teams, obviously, you want to set the tone," Astros catcher Jason Castro said. "We played them more than anybody else and having this series against them so early is important to kind of show where we're at and go out there and have something to build on. We played them quite a bit being the first year in the division. But I think some of that experience will help us quite a bit moving forward."

Astros: Bullpen getting the job done

The Astros' bullpen worked 3 2/3 innings in Friday's loss to the Rangers, pitching out of a pair of bases-loaded jams while allowing six hits and one run. Through 11 games, the Astros' bullpen has 5.97 ERA, but has done a nice job in close games.

"I do think we when have leads, the bullpen is a lot more reliable than last year, and that's huge," general manager Jeff Luhnow said.

Astros catcher Jason Castro said the veterans in the bullpen, and even the younger pitchers who got experience last year, have a better idea how to attack hitters.

"They understand themselves and they know what they're trying to do, and it's a good feeling," he said. "You have confidence that when they're out on the mound, they're locked into not only who's up, but what the situation is and who's coming up behind them and what they need to do to get out of it. It's a nice thing they bring to the table."

Rangers: Making a habit out of walking off

The Rangers' 1-0, 12-inning win over the Astros on Friday was their third consecutive walk-off win at home. Their three walk-off wins are the most in the majors, and it's the second time since the start of the 2013 season the Rangers have won three straight walk-offs.

The walk-off win in the series opener over the Astros came despite the Rangers leaving the bases loaded twice in extra innings and going 1-for-15 with runners in scoring position. They stranded 16 runners on base.

Worth noting

• After failing to throw out a runner attempting to steal in his first five attempts of the season, Castro threw out Elvis Andrus in the third inning and Leonys Martin in the fifth inning Friday. Martin's came on a pitch out.

• Friday's game was played on the 20th anniversary of the first regular-season game at the ballpark in Arlington, which is now known as Globe Life Stadium.

• Andrus beat out an infield single in the eighth inning Friday to extend his season-opening hitting streak to 10 games, matching the second-longest season-opening streak in club history (Al Oliver had a 13-game streak in 1979). Comments