The Astros vs. Rangers series picked back up for the second time in five days on Friday, this time, the meeting was at Globe Life Field. After sweeping the Rangers in the first meeting, the Astros were hoping to continue that success, but the Rangers had other plans.
Astros vs. Rangers Series: Game One
The Astros came into the series with Rangers fresh off a series win in Oakland. Houston sent rookie Tyler Ivey to the mound, who was called up from Triple-A Sugar Land to make his first professional start against his hometown Rangers. Ivey, a native of Rowlett, TX, just 37-miles from Arlington, TX, grew up watching the Rangers and made his professional debut pitching against the very team he grew up watching. Ivey managed to go 4.2 innings, giving up four earned runs on six hits, while only striking out three in his big league debut.
The Astros got on the board in the top of the first on a fielder’s choice from Aledmys Diaz. The Rangers tied the game up in the bottom of the third inning on a Brock Holt solo homerun. Texas added runs in the fourth and fifth innings, giving them a 4-1 lead, while knocking Ivey out of the game. Astros manager Dusty Baker had to turn to his bullpen earlier than expected, which would prove to be costly later on.
The Astros tied the game in the top of the eighth inning on a Jason Castro double and a Jose Altuve single. The game went into extra innings, and in the tenth inning, the Astros would take the lead on a Brock Hold throwing error, putting Houston up 5-4. In the bottom of the tenth inning, the Rangers manage to get a couple of runners on base for Adolis Garcia, who crushed the game-winning three-run home run as the Rangers took game one of the series 7-5.
Astros vs. Rangers Series: Game Two – Bullpen Woes
Houston returned to action on Saturday afternoon with Lance McCullers Jr. on the mound hoping to tie the series. The Astros needed McCullers Jr. to go deep into this game to help give the bullpen a rest from the previous night. From the first pitch, McCullers Jr. did not seem to have command of his pitches. After throwing forty pitches in the first inning, McCullers Jr. was able to settle into the game, going five innings, giving up only three runs and striking out seven in the no-decision.
In the top of the first, the Astros would get on the board on a Yordan Alvarez fielder’s choice and a Yuli Gurriel sac fly, giving them an early 2-0 lead. Houston struck again in the top of the second inning as Chas McCormick hit a solo home run to right field, extending the Astros lead to 3-0.
The Rangers scored a couple of runs in the bottom of the third on an Isiah Kiner-Falefa two-run double, cutting the lead to 3-2. Martin Maldonado extended Houston’s lead in the top of the fourth inning on an RBI ground out. However, Texas tied the score in the bottom of the seventh as Garcia hit his second home run of the game. The seventh inning is where the game got away from the Houston bullpen as the Rangers scored four runs to take the game 8-4 and the series.
Astros vs. Rangers Series: Game Three – Costly Mistakes
The Astros entered game three of the series with the Rangers hoping to come away with the victory. Houston sent Cristian Javier to face a Rangers team that proved to be resilient at the plate during the series. Javier was effective but was unable to go deep into the game, lasting only 4.2 innings while allowing one earned run, five strikeouts, and a career-high six walks.
Both teams were locked in a pitchers duel, as neither team was able to score until the middle innings. The Rangers finally broke the deadlock in the bottom of the fifth as Nate Lowe walked in an RBI, giving the Rangers a 1-0 lead. In the bottom of the seventh, the Rangers add another run on a Nick Solak double, putting the Rangers up 2-0.
The Astros tied the game up in the eighth inning on a wild pitch scoring Jason Castro, while a Michael Brantley fielder’s choice brought in Altuve. Like the day before, the game went into extra innings, and in the bottom of the tenth, the Astros made a critical error. Despite his incredible series, Houston elected to pitch to Adolis Garcia. Garcia continued his timely hitting with an infield single scoring Solak. The Rangers would win the game and sweep the Astros, 3-2.
The Astros pitching staff combined gave up a season-high eight walks, which simply cannot happen in such a close game. The other crucial error was pitching to Garcia with the game on the line in the tenth inning. Garcia had been dominant at the plate during this series, and instead of walking Garcia and then Gallo, the Astros could have been able to get out the inning. These types of mistakes cannot happen with two of the hottest teams coming into Minute Maid Park.
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