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Thoughts on a 9-7 Rangers loss

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Astros 9, Rangers 7

Eric Christian Smith/Getty Images

Astros 9, Rangers 7

  • Frustrating game for the Rangers today, as the Rangers jump up on the Astros early once again, but can't hold onto the lead.
  • The issue for the Rangers today that is bigger than a single loss to Houston at a time when the Rangers are already in the driver's seat in the A.L. West is the continuing struggles of Derek Holland.  A few weeks ago, Holland appeared to be a lock to the #2 starter in a playoff rotation if the Rangers made the postseason.  Now, after yet another bad outing, you have to wonder if Holland would even be in the rotation if the Rangers make the ALDS.
  • Holland was hit on the left hand by a line drive back up the middle by the first batter he faced in the game, Jose Altuve, and took some time to throw some pitches and make sure he was okay before continuing.  Holland never seemed right, though, whether due to pain in his hand or other issues, and his fastball was off a couple of ticks from where it has generally been in his previous starts.  Holland ended up getting pulled after 5 innings, having allowed 7 hits -- including 3 home runs -- and 2 walks while striking out just a single batter.
  • Holland at least left with the game tied, though Chi Chi Gonzalez, who started the sixth in relief of Holland, immediately gave up a home run to Chris Carter, the first batter he faced, to make it a 5-4 game.  It was the only hit that Chi Chi gave up in 1.2 IP, but he allowed a pair of walks, as well as two unearned runs that scored in the seventh in the aftermath of Mitch Moreland not being able to handle a Jed Lowrie grounder.  Sam Freeman was brought into the game with two outs in the 7th and one run in in the inning to retire Colby Rasmus and keep it a 6-4 game, but Rasmus hammered the first pitch he saw to right field for a home run to make it 8-4.
  • Luke Jackson got to pitch today, finally, but he gave up a home run to Altuve -- Altuve had homered earlier off of Holland, joining Carlos Correa with a pair of homers today.
  • Freeman has been used sparingly in September, and this is the second straight outing where he's allowed a run.  Jackson hadn't pitched in 10 days -- since pitching the 9th in a blowout win at home against Houston.  Both of them seem to be longshots, at this point, to make the postseason roster.
  • The bats made noise in the first and ninth innings, but were largely silent in between.  The Rangers rallied with two outs in the first to get three runs home on the strength of a Prince Fielder single, an Adrian Beltre walk, a Mitch Moreland double and a Rougned Odor single.  Other than a Shin-Soo Choo homer in the third, though, that was the only scoring the team did on the day until the ninth, when Texas mustered another two out rally, this time against closer Luke Gregerson.  After Elvis Andrus and Josh Hamilton struck out to start the inning, Will Venable singled to right.  DeShields and Choo followed that up with infield singles, and then Fielder singled to make it a 9-7 game.  Adrian Beltre was then hit by a pitch, bringing Moreland to the plate as the go-ahead run, and prompting A.J. Hinch to pull Gregerson in favor of Will Harris.  Alas, Moreland grounded out to end the game.
  • Still, if nothing else, the late rally had to stress out Astros fans, and had to at least take some of the wind out of their sails at the end of a critical win for Houston.
  • If you are looking for bright spots, Choo and Prince each had multi-hit games.  Josh Hamilton started for the first time in quite some time and had an RBI single, and Joey Gallo had a pinch hit single.  So those are good things.
  • I went to today's game and was hoping to see the lead extended to 5.5 games and the magic number drop to 3.  Alas, the magic number stayed at 5, as the lead in the A.L. West dropped to 3.5.  Still, I said heading into the series I would feel good about things as long as the Rangers took at least one game, and they did that yesterday.  So anything else is a bonus.
  • That said, let's see if Martin Perez can get the Rangers a bonus tomorrow.