Rangers 8, Astros 3
- According to a press release from the Texas Rangers, the team has clinched the "coveted Silver Boot Trophy with tonight’s win." Yes, the Silver Boot Trophy is apparently "coveted." The best thing about the Astros moving to the A.L. West (aside from the fact that the Rangers will play in the city where I live 9 times a year from now on) is that the stupid Silver Boot will be gotten rid of once and for all.
- Very nice major league debut for Justin Grimm. 6 innings, 6 hits allowed, 7 Ks, no walks, 3 runs (including a solo home run). Per Joey Matches, he's just the 11th pitcher to strike out at least seven and walk no one in his major league debut. He's also just the third Ranger pitcher to strike out at least seven in his major league debut (Don Stanhouse, Paul Mirabella, and David Clyde are the others). He showed a swing-and-miss breaking ball, commanded his fastball well, and showed good composure on the mound. The Astros hit him hard from time to time -- aside from the home run, he also allowed three doubles -- but he continued to battle and throw strikes, and ended up doing better in his first major league appearance than any of us likely expected he would.
- Robbie Ross, Mike Adams and Mark Lowe all had a scoreless inning apiece, with only Adams, who gave up a pair of singles to start the inning, retired the next two batters, then loaded the bases on an 0-2 HBP before escaping having any trouble. I know that all of us expected that the first place Texas Rangers would be winning a well-pitched game in June with Justin Grimm and Robbie Ross playing key roles.
- For the second night in a row, the Rangers were held in check by a young Astros starting pitcher until, all of the sudden, they exploded. Tonight it was with a 5 run 6th inning, the runs being brought home by a two run Adrian Beltre single and a three run Nelson Cruz home run which reportedly went 458 feet. Cruz struck out in his other two at bats...but the thing about him is that, even when he's not going well, he still will end up every once in a while mashing one a long, long way.
- Craig Gentry got the start today, despite there being a righthander on the mound, with Ron Washington apparently saying before the game that he didn't want Gentry to sit three straight days. Gentry rewarded Wash for the decision by going 2 for 4 and stealing a base. Ian Kinsler and David Murphy also had stolen bases, with all three steals coming in the 1.2 innings when Fernando Rodriguez was on the mound. I'm guessing the Rangers felt, coming into the series, that they could take advantage of Rodriguez (or the Rodriguez/Snyder battery) on the basepaths.
- Baseball is weird, man. The Rangers had two baserunners in the first five innings of the game. Then, in the bottom of the sixth, six of the first seven batters reached base, with the only one who didn't reach base having bunted.
- David Murphy and Ian Kinsler were each 2 for 4 with a stolen base today. Coming into today's game, Murphy had a career OPS against Houston of 1073 in 72 plate appearances, while Kinsler had a career OPS against Houston of 1051 in 167 plate appearances.
- Michael Young was hitless in 3 at bats. He's now 1 for his last 15 and 5 for his last 31.
- With the Rangers ahead 7-3 in the bottom of the 8th, Ron Washington had Joe Nathan warming up. Once the Rangers got a runner on base, Mark Lowe started warming. When the Rangers scored, making the score 8-3, Nathan stopped warming, and Lowe came into the game. According to Tom Tango, a team that is ahead by 4 runs in the top of the 9th has a 99.1% chance of winning. A team that is ahead by 5 runs in the top of the 9th has a 99.7% chance of winning. Increasing the odds of winning by 0.6% was the margin that allowed Lowe to come in rather than Nathan.