- We talk all the time about the vagaries of baseball and how unpredictable the result of any one game can be, and tonight’s game drives that point home. Justin Verlander, future Hall of Famer having a great season, pitching for arguably the best team in baseball, at home, against Ariel Jurado, making his second major league start in a year where he’s having an okay campaign at AA, pitching for the last place Rangers...and the Rangers win comfortably.
- Kind of like what happened last night, in fact.
- Solid work from Ariel Jurado tonight against a lineup that, even without Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve, is really good. The one run he allowed was on a George Springer home run, and he allowed just one other hit en route to a 6 inning Quality Start. Jurado walked just one batter, while striking out just a pair, and while he will need to miss more bats going forward, he got the job done today.
- Jose Leclerc and Jake Diekman combined to pitch two scoreless innings to protect a 3-1 lead, and after the Rangers put 4 more on the board in the 9th, Austin Bibens-Dirkx got the chance to close things out. ABD did allow a pair of runs when the inning started with a Spring single and an Alex Bregman home run, prompting Jeff Banister to get Keone Kela warming, but he retired the next three to end the game and clinch the series for the Rangers.
- The Rangers could have scored more runs today — they had 9 hits against Verlander in his 5 innings of work, but only pushed 2 runs across — but the big crooked number in the ninth made it enough of a blowout. Isiah Kiner-Falefa started the scoring in the second inning, homering for the fourth time as a major leaguer, and the third time at Minute Maid Park (he’s apparently the Khris Davis of the Astros). The Rangers loaded the bases in the fourth, on singles by Adrian Beltre, IKF and Willie Calhoun, but Carlos Tocci grounded out to end the inning and that threat.
- Springer’s home run was in the fourth inning, tying the game, but that simply set the stage for Rougned Odor theatrics in the fifth. Odor cranked a shot to deep center field, and did his drop his head, drop his bat, start slowly trotting routine he does when he knows he hit one out. Because of how deep center field at Minute Maid is, however, it didn’t go out — instead, it caromed off the wall as Springer leapt unsuccessfully for it, and then caromed off to the left. Had it caromed the other way, Josh Reddick would have been able to field it, but heading the other direction, with Springer down, gave Odor the opportunity to kick it into gear, round third base without slowing and make it home easily for an inside-the-park home run, the 28th in team history.
- Odor’s next time up, in the top of the seventh, he faced newly acquired Astros pitcher Ryan Pressly, who was making his Houston debut. Odor greeted him with a blast to deep right field, picking up a home run of the garden variety to make it a 3-1 game.
- Odor also started the rally in the ninth inning. After a Shin-Soo Choo ground out (Choo didn’t join in the fun, going 0 for 5 tonight), Odor doubled to right center, legging it out on what could have been, maybe should have been, just a single. Elvis Andrus then singled to right, advancing to third when Reddick opted to throw home rather than hit the cutoff man, putting runners at second and third with one out. Infield in, Adrian Beltre grounded sharply to Bregman at shortstop, but the contact play was on and Odor broke home immediately. Bregman made a strong throw home, but Odor beat the tag, making it a 4-1 game. Joey Gallo, who was 0 for 3 with a walk at the time, then hit a missile into the right field seats, giving the Rangers a 7 spot that would have meant half price pizza tomorrow if that Papa John guy weren’t a racist.
- This was another all around fun game, the second in a row in Houston. Odor was 5 for 5 with two homers and two doubles, Elvis was 3 for 5, IKF was 2 for 5 and should have had a third hit (Reddick robbed him of a single with a great diving play), Willie Calhoun got a couple of hits, and the newly returned Delino DeShields got into the game late as a pinch runner and defensive replacement.
- Fans will sometimes ask, why should I bother paying attention to the team right now? Why watch when they are a bad team that is going to lose a lot more often than they win? Games like this drive home why...even in bad seasons, there will be quite a few fun games, and it helps make the bad ones worth suffering through.
Rangers 7, Astros 3