Well, that wasn't good. The Astros lost handily, 11-3 which meant that they were on the wrong end of a sweep, and were outscored 20-6 over the three game series. Their roster is kind of in tatters after a Springer injury leaving a shorthanded bench, and a couple of ineffective starts heavily taxed an already busy bullpen already short of a long reliever. If Astros fans needed a reminder of what things were like in 2012, then this series would do nicely.
Stunning turnaround, too. On Monday morning, the Constable was either channelling Nostradamus or being sarcastic when he wrote:
Really nervous about this Rangers series, you guys... on to the links:Gah! And the Astros debuted a new Left Fielder. Not Preston Tucker, either. Fans, meet Hammerin' Hank Conger.
On the Mound:Sam Deduno got his second start of the 2015 season, and he was... not good. He hung in there for 90 pitches and five innings, but his ineffectiveness was meant that the game was well out of hand when he departed. He did well to last as long as he did.
Two baserunners in the first - Andrus walked and was easily gunned down by Jason Castro on a kind of pitchout but was probably a missed high fastball. Then another walk to Prince Fielder, but he went nowhere when Adrian Beltré grounded out to short to end the frame.
The second was not good. Carlos Peguero mashed his second home run of the series - a majestic short to the LF power alley with one out. The pitch was a cutter which started away and cut back over the inside part of the plate - Peguero didn't miss it at all, and he drove the ball the other way which hit the wall over the concourse. Deduno looked a little annoyed, so he promptly walked Robinson Chirinos, then gave up a single to Adam Rosales (a hard line drive over shortstop), putting runners on the corners with one out. DeShields grounded out to score Chirinos - Altuve lost the handle on the transfer trying to get the throw off for the double play, which would have been tight anyhow with DeShields' speed. Choo then hit a high shot into the first couple of rows of the Crawford Boxes on an elevated pitch away for a second opposite field home run in the inning. If you think that Deduno looked dirty after the first home run, then his look after the second one was priceless. 4-0 Rangers.
Deduno allowed two runs in the second: strikeout, double to the RF-CF gap, looooonnnnngg flyout to the dead CF warning track, run-scoring wild pitch, single, double down the LF line, strikeout. He retired the side in order in the third, and fourth, then ran into more trouble in the fifth. Single, single, single to load the bases (all hit hard, but Prince Fielder - the lead runner - is as slow as molasses), sac-fly (just short to the warning track in CF), bases-clearing double (hit hard to the visiting bullpen under the concourse), groundout, single (hard hit up the middle) and that was the end of the night for Deduno. Joe Thatcher relieved, and he struck out Shin-Soo Choo to end the frame.
Thatcher got the sixth, and aside from a 2-out triple to deep CF to Adrian Beltré that Marisnick nearly gloved a full speed just short of Tal's Hill, the inning was unremarkable. Marisnick successfully completed a much simpler play to end the frame. Will Harris relieved to start the seventh, and his scoreless-inning streak ended at 28-and-something frames (26 appearances) when he allowed a lead off homer to Carlos Peguero. It was a curveball away which Peguero mashed into the Crawford Boxes. Harris smiled and shook his head, then bounced right back to retire the next six in order, three on strikeouts. Tony Sipp got the ninth, and he cruised through the side on nine pitches, eight for strikes
At the Plate:Colby Lewis was dominant. Two Astros struck out in the first, Gattis singled to right to lead off the second but he was promptly erased on a Rasmus double-play grounder to the right side. Carter walked before Handsome Jake flew out to CF. In the third, Mike-Bob Grossman hit a long double to the LF-CF gap with one out, but didn't advance. In the fourth, Evan Gattis hit a hard line drive double over the right fielders' head with one out, but two strikeouts meant that he didn't advance. In the fifth and sixth, the sides went in order. In the seventh, Colby Rasmus singled to right, but didn't advance.
And then... some runs! Jason Castro turned on a high fastball to lead off the eighth, and the ball landed just fair down the RF line. He cruised into second with the double. Mike-Bob moved him over with a groundout to the right side, then Jonathan Villar singled over the head of the shortstop to drive Castro in. Marwin González then organised for Jonathan Villar to be efficiently erased on a 4-3 double-play grounder.
In the ninth, the flow of runs was unable to be stemmed by the hapless Rangers pitching staff (sarcasm alert!). Luis Valbuena worked a lead-off walk against Spencer Patton, who was clearly having control issues. After two outs, Chris Carter mashed a thigh-high fastball away into the bullpen in RF, which was a thing of beauty too rarely seen this year. Then
Evan Gattis got two hits (2-4, 2B) and Rasmus (1-4), Castro and Mike-Bob Grossman (1-3, 2B), Villar (1-1) and Carter (1-3, BB, HR) all managed one hit. Luis Valbuena worked a walk. Ghastly.
Ummm, the first?? This game was all Rangers from the outset and it is useless to pretend otherwise. A 4-run first, and with Hinch not going to pull Deduno no matter how ineffective because of the state of his 'pen, this was going to get uglier. And it did.
Man of the Match:
Will Harris, for ending his streak, but bouncing right back and starting another one.
Goat of the Game:
Sorry, Sam Deduno. Game Score: 3. Not good. Didn't have it tonight, struggled with command, be interesting to see how he bounces back.
Astros in Anaheim.
Collin McHugh (4-0, 3.41) versus lefty Hector Santiago (2-2, 3.14)
I wonder if Preston Tucker will start. He doesn't have a platoon split this year (.364/.432/.606 in 36 PA's versus lefties, .299/.351/.672 in 73 PA's versus righties), so perhaps he will suit up in LF for his ML debut. That would allow Marisnick to play CF and Grossman to play right if they want to sit Rasmus, who does have a platoon split.
Tough series. Thanks for reading.