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Thoughts on a 4-3 Rangers loss

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Astros 4, Rangers 3

MLB: MAY 13 Rangers at Astros Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Astros 4, Rangers 3

  • What a frustrating game.
  • The Rangers didn’t really deserve to win, I don’t think, but they had the opportunity to steal the game anyway, so it feels especially frustrating.
  • Mike Foltynewicz got the start, and he didn’t pitch particularly well. He needed 95 pitches to go 5 innings, he gave up a bunch of hard contact, and his final line was 3 runs on 8 hits with 3 walks and 3 Ks.
  • Other than the fifth, when Yordan Alvarez led off with a double then the final three batters in the inning were retired, at least two Astros batters reached in every inning against Foltynewicz. Nonetheless, he kept wriggling out of trouble, and if Charlie Culberson had made a very makeable play in the second, the Rangers might have shut out the Astros.
  • The play — or non-play, really — that made the difference in the game came in the bottom of the second inning. After back-to-back singles to lead off the inning, Dusty Baker, with his team down 2-0, had Myles Straw lay down a sac bunt. Foltynewicz got Jason Castro down 0-2, then walked him, bringing up Jose Altuve. Altuve swung on the first pitch and hit a sharp grounder towards third.
  • Altuve hit the ball fairly hard — it was 96.4 mph off the bat — but it also had a -10 degree launch angle, meaning it hit the ground fairly quickly, which slows it down. It was a playable ball. Statcast gave it a .240 expected batting average, and that doesn’t take into account where specifically the ball went, just the EV and launch angle. Given that the ball was within reach of Culberson at third base, it was a ball where a play should have been made. Had it been made, Culberson could have gone home with it, or tried to turn a double play.
  • Instead, Culberson seemed to not be sure how to play it. He started to move over towards it as if to try to get in front of it, then stopped and stabbed at it with a backhand. He missed, the ball went into the corner, and three runs scored — the only three runs the Astros scored before extra innings.
  • Culberson has had a rough week defensively — he had bad throws at key times both on Monday and on Tuesday in San Francisco. Whiffing on the Altuve double arguably cost the Rangers this game.
  • The relievers did their job. John King struck out two while allowing two hits in two scoreless innings. Josh Sborz struck out two and allowed a hit in an inning. Joely Rodriguez had a scoreless ninth. Ian Kennedy had a scoreless tenth, though he had two intentional walks due to the ghost runner at second situation, and he was saved by an absolute rocket of a throw home by Joey Gallo on a potential sacrifice fly to get the final out of the tenth, a play where Gallo needed to make a perfect throw to get the runner, and made a perfect throw.
  • Then the 11th came along, Brett Martin was on the mound, the bases were loaded with two outs, and a 1-2 curveball was unable to be corralled by Jonah Heim and the winning run scored on a wild pitch.
  • What a stupid way to lose.
  • Of course, the Rangers lost in that stupid way because, after scoring a single run in each of the first three innings, the bats went to sleep. Willie Calhoun took the first pitch of the game out of the park, and once would think that would be a positive sign of things to come from the offense going forward, but no, it wasn’t.
  • The Rangers let an opportunity for a big inning slip away in the second. Cristian Javier, struggling with his command, gave up a leadoff single to David Dahl and then walked the next two batters. Bases loaded, no one out, an opportunity to put up a crooked number. But the Culb fanned, Jose Trevino had a sacrifice fly to bring home a run, and Willie Calhoun smoked a line drive that Altuve caught to end the inning.
  • The Rangers tied it up in the third on an infield single by Nick Solak, followed by a wild pitch, an advanced to third on a Nate Lowe lineout to right, and then a ground out by Joey Gallo that brought Solak home.
  • After the Solak single, the only Rangers baserunners until extras was an Isiah Kiner-Falefa single in the 7th and a couple of walks in the 8th. The bats went to sleep.
  • The Culb was the ghost runner in the 10th, and when he advanced to third on a wild pitch it seemed like the stage was set for Texas to score at least one run. Andy Ibanez, pinch hitting, drew a walk, and then Khris Davis, pinch hitting, hit into a double play. That would have been fine if the Culb had scored, but he stayed at third, and was stranded when Nick Solak fanned.
  • The Rangers had a walk to lead off the 11th but nothing else, and that was that.
  • It was just a frustrating game all around.
  • Josh Sborz had the high velocity for a Ranger pitcher, at 97.2 mph. Ian Kennedy hit 95.9 mph, while Joely Rodriguez topped out at 95.6 mph and Mike Foltynewicz at 95.5 mph. Brett Martin peaked at 94.1 mph, and John King at 93.8 mph.
  • Willie Calhoun had the high exit velocity for the Rangers, at 103.7 on his second inning lineout. Adolis Garcia was at 103.5 mph with a single, Nate Lowe’s 3rd inning lineout was 100.9, and Joey Gallo had a 99.5 mph fly out that had a 44 degree launch angle, and so was too high in the air to be productive. Willie Calhoun’s home run was only 93.0 mph off the bat, believe it or not. It had a .080 expected batting average per Statcast. But the shallow right field in Houston meant that it got out.
  • Hopefully things will be better in Friday’s game.