The Texas Rangers have officially lost consecutive series to the Houston Astros, as they fell 8-3 Tuesday night.
An eventful 33-pitch first inning from starting pitcher Phil Irwin resulted in an early 2-0 lead for the Astros. Jose Altuve lead off with a single and stole second base. Rex Grossman struck out, but Altuve was able to distract Chris Gimenez, allowing Grossman to reach first on what was ruled a slow play. George Springer walked to load the bases, but Altuve was soon picked off third base by Gimenez. Back-to-back singles from Jon Singleton and Matt Dominguez scored Grossman and Springer, giving the Astros their two runs.
“It basically came down to the first inning, and I wasted all my pitches there” said Irwin. “I was overthrowing, command was bad. After I settled down, I feel like I threw the ball well.”
Leonys Martin lead off the second inning with a solo shot for the Rangers, to bring them within one of the Astros. However, Springer lead off the third inning with a blast of his own, bringing the game to 3-1 Astros.
Adrian Beltre hit a triple off the top of the wall, and scored on a sacrifice fly from Martin to once again bring the Rangers within one of Houston in the fourth.
A scoreless fifth brought hope for the Rangers, and then Chris Carter lead off the sixth with a home run to deep center field. That would change in the seventh however, when Altuve walked, stole second, and scored on an error by Rougned Odor.
One new Ranger making his major league debut got his chance to shine in the bottom of the seventh, achieving a great feat with his first big league hit. Jake Smolinksi took charge after Gimenez walked, hitting a RBI double to left field.
The game stood at 5-3 and was still within the Rangers' grasp, until the Astros had another big inning, this time against Aaron Poreda in the eigth. Carter lead off with a homer for the second time of the game, the fourth lead off homer of the night. Carlos Corporan single, Enrique Hernandez singled, and the Marwin Gonzalez singled to score Corporan. A sacrifice fly by Altuve would score Hernandez, giving Houston their final run of the game.
Roman Mendez also made his big league debut for the Rangers, and was able to prevent the Astros from getting any more hits. Though Mendez did walk a batter, at the end of the day his debut was a positive one.
The Rangers struggle to win games recently has been painful. The offense has been far from explosive, but even when they are able to produce it seems the pitching is unable to shut opponents down. There isn’t a particular problem with the Rangers this year, there are lots. However, starting pitchers going deeper into games, and bullpens getting more rest could be a temporary prescription to the pain.
“Our offense is going to have to grind, and they usually do” said manager Ron Washington. “But if our starting pitchers can get us deeper in the ballgame, that’s less work for the bullpen, and I think everything else will work out.”
Apparently fine after taking a line drive to the head, Yu Darvish takes the mound Wednesday night to battle Dallas Keuchel. Game time is slated for 7:05 p.m. CT.