Rangers and Marlins down early in second half

The Texas Rangers, who entered the all-star break in eight games this season under .500, are scheduled to visit the Miami Marlins on Thursday afternoon.

The one-game “series” is a makeup contest necessitated by the MLB lockout and delayed start to the season.

Texas, which has lost four straight, is expected to start right-hander Jon Gray (6-4, 3.71 ERA). Miami, which has lost three in a row, had not confirmed a starter Wednesday noon.

It remains to be seen if Rangers can play with renewed vigour. Last Sunday, after being swept in four games by the Seattle Mariners, Rangers manager Chris Woodward seemed grateful for the All-Star break.

“We need a few days off,” Woodward said. “Our guys are tired. They need to rest their bodies and collect their thoughts.”

Much of what happens Thursday will hinge on Gray, who is 3-3 with a 4.19 ERA in seven career starts against the Marlins.

Gray is yet to win in Miami, going 0-2 with a 3.93 ERA in three career starts at the Marlins ballpark.

This is Gray’s first season in Texas after signing a four-year, $56 million contract leaving Colorado as a free agent.

Texas is 9-7 with Gray on the mound. He has six quality starts, including a stellar performance in his last outing, July 13 against the Oakland A’s. In that game, Gray allowed just one hit and no walks, striking out nine batters in seven scoreless innings.

Offensively, Texas ranks 11th in the majors in average points scored per game. The Rangers are tied for fifth in home runs per game.

The Rangers are led by shortstop Corey Seager, who leads the team in home runs (22), RBIs (52) and OPS (.804). Second baseman Marcus Semien has 13 home runs and a .697 OPS, leading the team in steals (17) and runs (50). Both are new to Rangers this year after Seager signed for $325 million and Semien signed for $175 million.

The Rangers could face right-hander Pablo Lopez, who hasn’t pitched since getting a no-decision decision on July 13 against Pittsburgh, allowing one run in five innings.

Lopez (6-4, 2.86 ERA) is one win shy of his career winning record. He is 24-25 in five years in the majors.

The Marlins are 11-7 this year on the departure of Lopez, who has never faced the Rangers.

Lopez tends to get tired in the second half of the season. For his career, he is 17-15 with a 3.47 ERA in the first half. He is 1-6 with a 4.96 ERA in the second half.

His home trend is more favourable, posting a 2.85 ERA in 42 starts. He has a 4.90 ERA in 38 career starts.

Offensively, the Marlins are tied for 17th in the majors in home runs per game. The Marlins are 24th in runs scored. They scored just one point as they were swept in three games by Philadelphia last weekend.

“Things look really bad when you’re not swinging the bats,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said.

Miami has four players with double-digit home runs: All-Star Jazz second baseman Chisholm Jr. (14), left fielder Jorge Soler (13), first baseman Jesus Aguilar (11), and center fielder Jesus Sanchez (11).

However, Chisholm is on the injured list along with Marlins infielder Jon Berti, who has 28 interceptions, the most in the majors.

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