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Thoughts on a 5-3 Rangers win

Rangers 5, Astros 3

Bob Levey/Getty Images

Rangers 5, Astros 3

  • This was kind of reminiscent of last night's game, in several ways.  A lot of nail biting, a lot of blown opportunities late that seemed to put the Rangers in jeopardy of giving away the game, but at the end of the day, a "W".
  • Let's start with Yu Darvish, who was masterful, as it seems he so often is against the Astros.  He had his fastball command working today -- after the game, he said he's throwing better than he did in 2013 because his command is better -- and as a result he was relatively efficient while racking up the strikeouts.  The closest Darvish came to getting into trouble was in the 6th, when the Astros put George Springer and Jose Altuve at the corners with two outs for Carlos Correa.  Correa ended up grounding out to Adrian Beltre on a pitch he got good wood on, ending the only real threat the Astros mounted against Yu.
  • Ah, then, the bullpen...that's where things went awry.  Jeremy Jeffress came into the game with a 3-0 lead, pitching for the third time in four days, and wasn't sharp.  Tony Kemp led off with a single, and then after a George Springer grounder that sent Kemp to second, Alex Bregman doubled to give the Astros their first run of the game.  An Altuve single brought Springer home and put the go-ahead run at the plate, though Jeffress was able to get out of the inning on a Carlos Correa fielder's choice and an Evan Gattis strikeout.
  • So it was a one run lead Sam Dyson was asked to protect, in his A.L.-leading 54th appearance of the year, and like Jeffress, his third appearance in four days.  A one-out walk to A.J. Reed was followed by a Jake Marisnick sac bunt, putting a runner at second with two outs for Kemp.  Kemp once again singled, bringing home the tying run and giving Dyson his third blown save of the season.  A George Springer grounder ended the inning, but the damage was done and the game went into extra innings.
  • Matt Bush ended up being asked to go two innings today, but again, it couldn't be easy.  The 10th was fine, with just a Carlos Correa two-out walk blotting his line, though the 11th got a little scary.  Marisnick double with two outs, bringing up Kemp, who hit a ball back to the mound that Bush got a glove on and deflected, but then couldn't run down.  It went as a single, putting runners on first and third with the Rangers clinging to a 5-3 lead, and Springer once again up.  Bush put Springer away swinging on high heat, however, giving the Rangers the game and the series win.
  • I'm finding myself contemplating the bullpen usage, today in particular...we've heard how there's nothing but winning pieces out there, but I am curious if we see a change in the closer situation at some point.  Dyson, as has been discussed, has been ridden hard this season, and his stuff appears to be suffering...he has one strikeout in his last nine outings, and his command doesn't seem to be as sharp as it has been.  Meanwhile, it was also interesting that Matt Bush was asked to close out the game in the 11th after pitching the 10th, with Jake Diekman, who has been lightly used the last week, available, as well as Keone Kela.  After 33 pitches today, I'd assume Bush isn't going to be available tomorrow.
  • In any case, the Rangers have two hard-throwing, high-K "closer" types in Kela and Bush, who you'd think might be a better fit in the ninth inning of games than Dyson.  Of course, the guy who has the "proven closer" mantle, Jeffress, is, like Dyson, a ground ball guy who doesn't strike out a ton of batters, and who is weak against lefthanded hitters.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out going forward.
  • As for the bats...the offense mustered just 1 run on 5 hits in 7 innings against Joe Musgrove.  Then, somehow, they had 10 hits in 4 innings against the Astros bullpen, along with a walk, a batter reaching on a dropped third strike and two HBPs, but "only" scored four runs because of continued failures to get guys home from third.  Texas left two runners on base in the eighth, the bases loaded in the ninth (after loading them with none out), the bases loaded in the tenth (after loading them with one out), and runners on second and third in the eleventh.  If Texas hadn't won this game, there'd be much yelling about missed opportunities late.
  • It all worked out fine, though, with the Rangers winning, and the hitters racking up hits.  Every starter had at least one hit except for Delino DeShields, who drew a walk, had a huge steal of third, and did a great job of keeping in a rundown on an infield grounder in the eighth, when he was going to be dead at home, which let Shin-Soo Choo and Ian Desmond advance to second and third, setting the stage for the pair to score on Jurickson Profar's double, which gave the Rangers a 3-0 lead.
  • Rougned Odor had 3 hits today, Desmond, Profar, Adrian Beltre, Mitch Moreland and Jonathan Lucroy all had two hits, and Carlos Beltran came off the bench for a pinch hit opportunity that resulted in one of the hardest hit balls of the game, a 10th inning bases loaded and two out smoked ball into the left-center gap, that Marisnick ran down, delaying the Rangers' triumph for an inning.
  • Texas is now 7 games up on Seattle in the West, and 7.5 games up on Houston.  Texas is 98-64 in their last 162 games -- with 50 games to go last year, the Rangers were 55-57, not realizing they were about to get red hot and finish the season on a 33-17 tear.
  • So yeah, that was fun and awesome, just like baseball should be.