Game recap:Astros' bats explode to down Rangers, 12-7

It may not be glamorous, but Scott Baker is playing an important role for the 2014 Rangers.

'He has saved our bullpen every time we've put him out there,' manager Ron Washington said. 'The rest of the bullpen is running on fumes.'

Baker threw 3.1 innings Monday to eat up innings for the taxed bullpen. Baker, who has been a starter in the past, said his role this season has presented a new challenge.

'It's tough because you can't establish a rhythm,' he said. 'You don't get a chance to prepare to face guy three or four times like you would as a starter.'

'It's not necessarily a good situation when they're putting me out there,' said Baker, who has seen a lot of innings with the team trailing by wide margins, like Monday in a 9-2 game.

He allowed the final three runs Monday, but allowed the rest of the bullpen to rest in the midst of a stretch of 20 games in 20 days before the All-Star break. It's a pitching staff that has relied on the promotion of Triple-A reliever Roman Mendez to help save the bullpen, so any contribution Baker can make is a welcome sight.

  • Jose Altuve and Adrian Beltre entered the game at nos. 1 and 2 in the American League in batting average. Each went 2-for-5, keeping Altuve at the top of the league at .338. Beltre sits at .334. Each improved on his pregame average by one point.
  • Altuve was called out on a ground ball to shortstop in the fourth inning. The call was clearly incorrect and was overturned after a 45-second review. The infield hit was the 123rd hit of the year for Altuve, which tied the Astros' franchise record for hits before the All-Star break.
  • Elvis Andrus grounded into a double play in the third inning, which tied him with Alex Rios for the most double play grounders on the team and in Major League Baseball. Andrus's twin-killing proved costly, as Rios and Beltre followed with doubles that scored a single run for Texas in the next two at-bats.
  • Carlos Pena reached base twice for the third straight game, but did so with two hits for the first time since his second game with Texas this season.
  • Jake Smolinski is the 46th Rangers player used this year. Matches mark used by club all of last season. He went 0-for-2 Monday.
  • Oddly enough, Colby Lewis is the only Ranger starting pitcher to record a quality start over the last nine games, and has done it twice. He went 11 starts this season without a quality start.
  • Daniel Robertson went 0-for-4, snapping a streak of six straight games in which he batted that he recorded a hit. He didn't get a hit on June 21 when he came on a s defensive replacement in the 10th inning and didn't have a plate appearance.
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