The Texas Rangers came back to beat Houston 3-2 thanks to two solo shots from Jonathan Lucroy and an RBI hit from Carlos Beltran. Thanks, JD!
With Lucas Harrell making the start tonight, this was perhaps the game in this series that seemed the least likely to end up in the win column for Texas but Harrell was able to wiggle out of several jams in his 3 2/3 innings of work. Harrell threw 44 strikes in his 92 pitches as he walked five Astros and gave up five hits. However, Harrell only allowed one run on a bases loaded walk in the first inning.
Luckily for Texas, the Rangers only have winning pieces in their bullpen as the combination of Tony Barnette, Keone Kela, Jeremy Jeffress, Jake Diekman, and Sam Dyson combined to throw 5 1/3 innings with only Dyson allowing a run as the 'pen combined for 7 Ks. That was a glimpse of how the Rangers plan to win playoff games.
The Rangers' offense also struggled to score runs early as each team played chicken to see who could try their best to get as many men on base without scoring runs. Texas produced eight hits and drew two walks off Doug Fister before they scored their first run.
With the Rangers trailing 1-0 in the 6th, and facing the possibility of seeing their lead in the American League West drop to 4 1/2 games, Lucroy hit the game-tying home run into the Crawford Boxes. Beltran followed with an RBI single to score Shin-Soo Choo in the 7th to give Texas the lead, and Lucroy hit his second solo shot in the top of the 8th to give the Rangers some insurance.
With the win, the Rangers returned to a 6 1/2 game lead and avoided having to win tomorrow to escape a series sweep. In addition, Texas won their tenth game over Houston this season to take the season series which means the Silver Boot will remain in Arlington where it belongs.
Here's your Handball gif of the day:
Player of the Game: Jonathan Lucroy is as advertized. Texas' new catcher helped Harrell navigate several harrowing moments in the early innings, threw out Jose Altuve trying to steal, and hit two solo dongs. You can now add Lucroy to the list of Rangers who will be getting booed at Minute Maid.
Up Next: The Rangers and Astros close out this three-game set with Yu Darvish taking the hill for Texas against RHP Joe Musgrove in the first MLB start of his career. With the two game swing in the standings at stake, a win would give the Rangers a huge 7 1/2 game lead in the AL West while the Astros would perhaps hold onto hope at 5 1/2 games behind with a win. First pitch is scheduled for 1:10 pm CT.