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Why the Rangers and Astros Rivalry is Good for Baseball

Why the Rangers and Astros Rivalry is Good for Baseball

Sunday completed a seven-game, ten-day span between the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros, a rivalry that is reaching its full potential for the first time since these two began going head-to-head in 2001. Of course, the height of the rivalry was the 2023 ALCS, which saw the Rangers clinch their third World Series appearance and, ultimately, their first World Series title in franchise history.

“We never really had a real rivalry because they always whipped our butts,” Cody Bradford told me when asked about the Texas and Houston matchups in the past. “Maybe back in 2015 and 2016, but I mean not really.

In the 23 seasons between the clubs, the Rangers have won the season series nine times, the Astros have won 10 times, and both clubs tied four times.  In the 280 meetings (including the postseason) between Texas and Houston, the Rangers have won 141 games, while the Astros have won 139 games. It’s a near complete split between the two in-state rivals to which the baseball world welcomes itself.

Cody Bradford, an Aledo, Texas native and a Rangers fan growing up, dominated the Astros in his one start vs. Houston during the last home stand. In 7.2 innings on April 5th, Bradford allowed two hits, one run, no walks, and struck out four Astros. He left the game with a standing ovation from the Rangers’ crowd. “I didn’t really know what to do. It’s the first time I ever had something like that. I think I was shocked but kind of overcome with emotion, and that’s special getting to hear that from the fans,” Bradford said while walking back to the dugout after his start.

It became sweeter for Cody to have the best start of his young MLB career against a rival at home. “It definitely hits home a little bit. We wanted to take it to them, and they whooped our butts and straight-up beat us back here last year. So it was really good getting to set that tone,” he said.

In the meantime, Josh Smith, who grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was an Astros fan. However, Rangers and Astros weren’t as prominent in his memory bank regarding rivalries; it was more Astros and Cardinals. “I remember more of the Astros [and] Cardinals. It’s just what I remember. So, I feel like this rivalry is kind of a newer one. Hopefully, it keeps growing. We’ll see,” Josh said.

Regardless of what side you take, the success of the Rangers and Astros is good for the Lone Star State and good for baseball.

“Any kid growing up, whether an Astros fan or Rangers fan, grows up watching good baseball and appreciating the preparation that guys this level put in. It gives us an edge, too, because it makes us play better and play sharper,” Bradford said.

“[The Astros] have a good team, so they’ve gone out and won a couple of [World Series]. We’re trying to win some more. So I think it’s just two good teams going at it from a good state, and I think it just makes for good baseball,” Josh Smith said about the two teams clashing.

Houston currently leads the season series 4-3 after their last two victories at home. The Rangers are trying to claim their first Silver Boot in four years and their second in the previous eight seasons. The two teams will reunite the weekend before the All-Star break in Houston (July 12-14). The Astros return to Arlington August 5-7 to close the season series. By then, the expectation is that these rosters will look vastly different based on the number of injuries both squads suffered at the beginning of the 2024 season, especially in the starting rotation.

Josh Smith mentioned to me that while those matchups are enormous, the focus is on winning one game at a time and not looking ahead. “You can’t go and sleep against teams that were playing in between those,” he said. It’s tough to look forward and that aspect of things, but we’re trying to focus on winning one game at a time, and when we do match up with them, we’re going to try to beat them [and] they’re going to try to beat us.”

Despite the Astros’ struggles to start 2024, I would suspect that the American League West in 2024 will come down to the two teams from Texas. Both fan bases may dislike the other, but if there’s one thing that Rangers and Astros fans can agree upon, it’s their opinion on Angel Hernandez.

Credentialed Media Staff Writer covering the Texas Rangers for Dallas Sports Fanatic | 2014 University of North Texas graduate with a Bachelor's in Radio, Television, and Film. I talk about things. Find me on the tweeter @aplinckTX

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