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Thoughts on a 4-1 Rangers loss

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Astros 4, Rangers 1

MLB: Houston Astros at Texas Rangers Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Astros 4, Rangers 1

  • I guess the good news is it wasn’t a blow out, huh?
  • Cole Hamels versus Justin Verlander...one of those matchups that, say, a half-decade ago would have been must-see TV. Now, two aging pitchers, one seemingly transitioning from TORP to LAIE, one showing signs of being able to recapture some of that TORP glory and hang onto to that label for a little while longer.
  • Hamels started poorly, giving up a leadoff home run to George Springer and then a double to Alex Bregman that should have been a single, but that bounced off of Ryan Rua’s glove, before retiring the next three batters. Hamels’ fastball command was poor from the outset, and so he went more with his cutter and changeup, scuffling and managing to keep the Rangers in the game, giving up single runs in the third and fourth inning before being pulled with one on and two out in the sixth.
  • Credit to Hamels for getting out of the third with just one run allowed when it looked like things were falling apart. Brian McCann led off the inning with a weak dribbler down the line, and didn’t run initially, apparently thinking the ball would go foul. It stayed fair, however, and Joey Gallo charged from first and fielded it, but taking a knee to the head from Hamels in the process. Adding insult to injury, Gallo couldn’t tag McCann as he ran by, meaning a 65 foot dribbler put a runner on with no one out. The trainers came out and checked out Gallo, who stayed in the game.
  • Hamels threw six straight balls after that, walking Springer and Bregman to load the bases for Jose Altuve, who flew out to Nomar Mazara in right field, bringing home a run. Carlos Correa walked on four pitches, loading the bases again, and disaster seemed imminent, but Marwin Gonzalez grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.
  • Hamels was throwing in the upper 80s today, and a pitcher who has shaky command of an upper 80s fastball is going to have a real hard time succeeding.
  • Jose Leclerc relieved Hamels in the sixth, faced one batter, and retired that batter, Evan Gattis, on three pitches. He looked good.
  • Chris Martin and Kevin Jepsen also had very good innings, in the seventh and the ninth. Martin’s Ranger debut was a 1-2-3 inning with 2 Ks, and Jepsen, who is the backup closer, had a 1-2-3 inning with 1 K.
  • Unfortunately, Matt Bush did not have a good 8th inning. Bush, who struggled this spring, continued to have issues today. With one out, Bush allowed a walk-double-walk sequence to Altuve, Correa and Gonzalez, before striking out Josh Reddick and Evan Gattis to end the inning. The extra run didn’t really matter, and its just one game, but it would be nice to see Bush have a couple of clean outings the next couple of times out.
  • The bats were largely shut down by Verlander today. Texas put up 6 hits and 2 walks, all of which came from Elvis Andrus (2 for 3 with a walk), Adrian Beltre (2 for 4), Rougned Odor (1 for 2 with a walk), and Shin-Soo Choo (1 for 4). Nomar Mazara got hit by a pitch, and no one else got on base.
  • Again, you don’t want to put too much weight on one game, but Rougned Odor’s game was encouraging. A guy who needs to improve his approach and be more patient at the plate this year, Odor picked up a single and draw a walk, though he also struck out.
  • The Astros went with a four man outfield against Joey Gallo, who showed a willingness to be aggressive early in the count against Justin Verlander, flying out on the first pitch his first two times up. The first one was a fly ball to left field that was caught by Alex Bregman, who was playing left field, while the second was a fly ball to center field that was caught by left fielder Josh Reddick. Gallo fanned on an 86 mph slider on a 3-2 pitch from Verlander his third time up before flying to the right field warning track in his final at bat. I’m curious as to whether this four man outfield alignment against Gallo catches on with other teams, and when Gallo, who is dealing with three infielders all on the first base side of second base, decides to drop a bunt down the third base line.
  • Anyway, its one game. It would have been nice to start the season with a win, but hopefully, we even things up tomorrow.
  • Go Rangers.