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84-71 - Rangers conclude 2015 road slate with loss to Astros

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In the final road game of the year, the Rangers couldn't solve Dallas Keuchel after he solved Vic Carapazza's strike zone

Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Let it be known that I'm not blaming the umpire for this loss. Dallas Keuchel is probably going to win the American League Cy Young Award and he was really, really good today. He's like 1000-0 at Minute Maid Park so the Rangers' backs were against the wall before the first pitch.

What I will say is the home plate umpire Vic Carapazza's strike zone changed somewhere around the second or so inning from really tight (Keuchel threw nearly 40 pitches to get the first four outs and borderline pitches weren't going his way) to ginormous (non-borderline pitches off the plate were suddenly strikes) and a guy like Keuchel is going to feast on a big zone like that.

The Rangers were probably never favorites in this game and they still go home with a two and a half game lead in the AL West. Still, it would have been nice to get this one and really bury the Astros.

Player of the Game: Martin Perez had a second inning that sort of defines him as a pitcher right now. He was cruising with two outs in the inning before Elvis Andrus threw high on a Marwin Gonzalez (*shakes fist*) grounder for an error. After that, Perez allowed a single, walk, two-run single to the 7-8-9 guys in the Astros' order. Regaining his composure is the name of the game for Perez if he wants to reach that next level.

And yet, Perez still went six innings and allowed zero earned runs while using Carapazza's mile-wide zone to his advantage to strike out six Astros. If nothing else, his outing made me feel a little better at his October chances because, besides that second inning, he pitched really well.