Yovani Gallardo has three starts against Houston this year and is 2-1 in those outings, but he heads to Houston to start the opener of a huge three-game series at Minute Maid Park on Friday night, and in his lone start in Houston this year, the Astros won 10-0 behind a gem from Dallas Keuchel.
Gallardo won't have to oppose Keuchel on Friday, but he'll have a tough matchup with Scott Kazmir on the mound for Houston knowing Keuchel looms on Sunday with his perfect record this year at home.
In other words, the Rangers pretty much have to win this opener if they want a series victory to all but ice the division title.
Here's the thing about Gallardo this season — he's been horribly inefficient, but he hasn't given up too much when he does pitch. His 3.41 ERA is a career low in his first season in the American League — a pretty rare thing for a pitcher transitioning from the NL to the AL.
In his 31 starts, Gallardo is averaging just below 5 2/3 innings per start, but when he's in, he hasn't allowed too much. In 24 of those starts, Gallardo has allowed three runs or less, and in 10 of them, he put up a goose egg — pretty impressive, really.
Gallardo needs to have his "A game" on Friday night, and if he can give the Rangers six innings and keep the damage minimal, the Rangers' offense is going well enough right now to pick him up.