- That was exciting, huh? More so than it should have been, but a win is a win.
- Shelby Miller pitched well for five innings, and we would be talking a lot more about that if it weren’t for the ninth inning anxiety. Through five innings Miller had allowed a lone run on 3 hits and 2 walks, striking out 3, needing just 67 pitches to go deep enough into the game to earn a win, the first time he has done so in 2019.
- Unfortunately, Miller started the sixth, and gave up home runs to Alex Bregman and Michael Brantley to start the inning. After retiring Carlos Correa, Miller got Yuli Gurriel to hit a fly ball to Shin-Soo Choo in right field that should have been caught, but that Choo misplayed for an E9. That resulted in Miller being pulled for Jeffrey Springs.
- So Miller’s final line wasn’t great looking, but there was at least progress today from a pitcher who had gotten off to an abysmal start to the season. It’s way too early to pronounce him back, or even serviceable, but it’s an encouraging outing at least.
- Jeffrey Springs gave up a single, which came around to score, along with the E9 runner, when Delino DeShields misplayed a ball to center into a triple. Robinson Chirinos followed up with a sac fly, and what had been a comfy 10-1 lead when the inning started was suddenly 10-6.
- Brett Martin pitched a scoreless 7th, along with a not-scoreless one-third LF an 8th inning that featured solo home runs by Carlos Correa and Josh Reddick, and prompted Chris Wooodward to go get Chris Martin to finish out the inning.
- So at 11-8, Jose Leclerc was asked to close it out. He hadn’t pitched since Wednesday and so I suspect he was going to pitch today regardless, but the hope had to be he would have an easy inning and show he was back.
- Twas not to be. George Springer led off with a homer, the fifth solo shot of the game for Houston. Bregman walked. Brantley hit a rifle shot that was caught by Choo. Correa struck out for the second out, meaning that, though the tying run was on base, Leclerc just needed to retire one more batter for the save.
- And of course, that didn’t happen. Leclerc walked Gurriel, walked Reddick, and walked pinch hitter Jose Altuve, forcing in a run and forcing Woodward to go to the pen and get Shawn Kelley, who struck out Chirinos to end the game.
- Woodward said after the game that Leclerc is still his closer, and that he would go to him tomorrow in a save situation (though after throwing 36 pitches today, Leclerc may not be available tomorrow). Shawn Kelley also said after the game that he believed in Leclerc. Woodward said that he thought Leclerc might have been tipping his pitches, though the control issue to my uneducated eye seems the bigger problem. Regardless, the guy who was one of the best relievers in baseball last year has not been that this year, and Julio Rangel et al will need to figure out how to get Leclerc right.
- Anyways, the bats did damage against Astros starter Collin McHugh, putting up enough runs that Texas could survive the bullpen conflagration. The Rangers jumped to an early 3-0 lead when Joey Gallo tripled home two runs in the first, and then was brought him on a Hunter Pence sac fly. Four more runs scored in the 3rd, on an RBI groundout by Gallo, a two run Pence homer, and a Logan Forsythe solo shot. And three more came across in the fourth, courtesy of an Elvis Andrus bases loaded double and Joey Gallo’s first sacrifice fly of his major league career.
- The thing about Gallo never having a sacrifice fly was an amusing statistical aberration at first, but then became an annoying talking point from those who decried Gallo as an all-or-nothing guy who either couldn’t come through in the clutch, or who was incapable of doing the “little things” to help his team win. I’m glad this particular complaint can go away now.
- Because this is how life is, Gallo will probably have three more sac flies by this time next week.
- Gallo’s first three plate appearances all brought runs home, but it was his final plate appearance, plating what turned out to be the game winning run, that was the most memorable. With Texas up 10-6 in the sixth, Choo and Danny Santana each walked, and then Choo went to third when Elvis hit into a GIDP. Gallo then hit one of the highest pop ups anyone has ever seen — it was in the air for 7.3 seconds, per Dave Raymond, and Statcast had it at 207 feet in the air at its apex. The Astro fielders couldn’t find it, and it fell safely at the shortstop area, bringing Choo home.
- The Gallo single had an exit velocity of 107.2 mph, the fourth hardest ball hit in today’s game. The hardest was Pence’s home run, at 113.1 mph. There were 15 balls hit at least 100 mph today, and two of them, believe it or not, were by Jeff Mathis — both for singles.
- Everyone had a hit today except Danny Santana and Patrick Wisdom, who each walked. Elvis had a pair of doubles, while Gallo’s triple and weirdo single mean he now has an 1116 OPS.
- Texas now plays three games in Oakland and four in Seattle next week before being off Monday and returning home to play Pittsburgh on Tuesday. My feeling heading into the Houston series was that going 5-5 over this stretch would be a very solid performance, so I figure we are shooting for a 3-4 road trip.
- Texas is now 12-8, and are four games above .500 for the first time since the end of the 2016 season.
Rangers 11, Astros 10