Last night, Jeff Banister gave a one-word explanation in response to the number of Rangers hit by pitches. That word was “puzzling.” Today, as the Rangers manager sat in the same seat in front of the same reporters, he used the word again. “Yeah, quite puzzling,” he began…

The puzzle pieces that were dumped from the box last night were dashed across the table in the top of the fifth inning Sunday, after a 3-0 pitch from Andrew Cashner hit Marwin Gonzalez. After a combined five batters hit by pitches yesterday, home plate umpire Stu Shuerwater deemed it necessary to warn both dugouts, and both managers promptly came out to argue.

One of them left the field first, and the other left more permanently, as first base umpire Tripp Gibson III ejected Banister. You can see the skipper’s full comments on the issue below (or if it’s not showing up for you, you can click here).

Needless to say, he was not thrilled with the decision. As he exited the field, he twice gestured to Gibson that he, too, was being ejected, and should hit the showers early.

Gibson remained in the game.

Oh right, and there was a baseball game. Andrew Cashner and Dallas Keuchel had a much-anticipated beard-off in Arlington, and while Cashner’s Mountain Man Face-Mop won decisively over Keuchel’s Pharoah-Inspired Consummate V, it was Keuchel that emerged victorious in the pitcher’s duel, as each starter took turns deftly maneuvering through the valley of the shadow of runs.

Each team had a number of stellar defensive plays: Elvis Andrus had a Jeter-jump in the top of the second to retire Marwin Gonzalez. Yulieski Gurriel dove into the first base foul line to to rob Rougned Odor, then later caught a rocket of a Joey Gallo line drive to double off Drew Robinson and end a Rangers threat. And let’s not forget perhaps the best outfield play of the Rangers’ season, where Delino DeShields tracked down a Derek Fisher fly ball, diving into the left field corner to make the catch, and jumping up to fire the ball back in, doubling off Carlos Beltran. But in the end, it was a sequence of two would-have-been-phenomenal plays that weren’t made that sent Houston out of town with the win.

Houston had struck first; Jose Altuve hit a one-out solo home run to right field in the fourth inning. Adrian Beltre, likewise, hit a solo home run to right field in the bottom of the sixth to tie it up.

And it was here, in the top of the seventh, where The Almost and The Nearly occured: Yulieski Gurriel hit a ball that sent Carlos Gomez sprinting toward’s Greene’s hill. When the two rendezvoused at the place where dirt meets pads, Gomez leapt to cover the final few feet of distance. The ball announced its arrival by bouncing off of:

- Gomez’ glove
- the center field wall
- Gomez’ shoulder
- the warning track.

One batter later, with Gurriel at third after a Marwin Gonzalez groundout, Beltran blooped a ball to shallow left field. DeShields sprinted in and dove again. But this time, he came up just short. As the ball bounced past him and into left field, Gurriel trotted home to take the 2-1 lead.

That was all Houston would need. Despite multiple innings where Texas would put runners in scoring position, the Rangers were unable to tie it up, going 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position. Credit the Houston bullpen: they made the pitches when they needed to, and the defense played well behind them. Sometimes, you just don’t win a baseball game.

Texas did take two of three from the Astros, and while a sweep would have been preferable, it’s hard to complain about winning a series against the division leader. The Rangers will sleep it off and welcome the Detroit Tigers tomorrow.