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Thoughts on a 10-3 Rangers loss

Astros 10, Rangers 3

Championship Series - Houston Astros v Texas Rangers - Game Four Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Astros 10, Rangers 3

  • Is it weird to say that this was a game that felt like it could have gone either way?
  • Of course it is weird. It is ridiculous. The Rangers lost by 7 runs. It was a blowout.
  • But it does feel that way. Each team hit two homers. The Astros had an xBA of .300 for the game, the Rangers .290. Both teams saw their starters chased early.
  • I do question the decision to go get Andrew Heaney in the first inning. Yes, he had allowed three runs, but the Astros weren’t crushing him. He faced seven batters. The first six batters had exit velocities of 87.6, 72.0, 98.8, 95.0, 41.9, and 56.8. That was followed up by a walk, after which Heaney was out and Dane Dunning was in.
  • We knew Heaney would be on a short leash and that Dunning would be coming in behind him. But pulling Heaney, who had gotten the Framber Valdez Game 2 experience — runs being scored on him in the first, but not getting hit hard — meant that a bullpen that had the long guys used the day before was going to have to carry a huge load.
  • Dane Dunning got out of the first and was fine for a couple of innings before his command went wonky in the fourth. A pair of walks to lead off the inning, then a weakly hit single by Mauricio Dubon to load the bases. Dunning got Alex Bregman to fan for the first out, after which Bruce Bochy went and got Cody Bradford.
  • Bringing Cody Bradford in, for the second day in a row, to be the third pitcher of the game in the fourth inning is a problem. It is why pulling Heaney in the first was, in my mind, questionable. If Heaney can go a little deeper before you go to Dunning, you get to, say, the sixth inning before needing reliever #3, maybe things turn out differently.
  • This scenario is also why I thought starting Max Scherzer in Game 2 made some sense. Scherzer wasn’t going to go deep, you were going to essentially have a bullpen game in Game 4. Starting Scherzer in Game 2 means you give the bulk arms you use behind him two days of rest before needing them again in Game 4. It puts you in a situation where you aren’t having to ask Bradford and Martin Perez and Chris Stratton to pitch on back to back days.
  • Anyhoo. Yordan Alvarez hit a deep blast to center off of Bradford, but it stayed in the park and was a sac fly. It was 4-3 Houston, but there were two on and two out, and if Bradford could retire Jose Abreu and get out of the inning, things were still looking pretty good for Texas.
  • Alas, we know what happened. The most momentum shifting play in baseball. 7-3 Astros.
  • Then the bottom of the fifth. Leody Taveras singled. Marcus Semien singled. Two on, no one out for Corey Seager, who had homered earlier in the game. The Rangers weren’t done.
  • Seager smoked a Hunter Brown fastball. A line drive, 108.6 mph off the bat. Right at Jose Abreu. Abreu catches it, Semien somehow manages to dive back to first safely. Except Houston challenges the call, and on replay, they determine Abreu’s glove touched Semien’s batting glove, in his back pocket, as he was diving back to first. Double play.
  • Evan Carter followed that up with a 106.0 mph line drive to center. .850 xBA, per Statcast. Caught. Inning over.
  • Top of the fourth, bottom of the fifth. Those were the two tipping points. If Dunning can just throw a freaking strike to Martin Maldonado, who walked to start the inning. If Abreu just gets under that Bradford pitch a little and flies out instead of sending it to the moon. If Seager’s line drive is a little bit one way or the other. Its a different scenario, the rested good relievers can pitch for the Rangers, and maybe the Rangers are up 3-1.
  • But that didn’t happen. The series is tied. Best two of three now.
  • But the good news? Jordan Montgomery and Nathan Eovaldi are making the next two starts. We are still in this.
  • Andrew Heaney hit 93.8 mph with his fastball. Dane Dunning topped out at 92.8 mph on his sinker. Cody Bradford’s fastball reached 93.2 mph. Chris Stratton touched 93.1 mph. Will Smith maxed out at 92.9 mph. Martin Perez’s sinker reached 92.9 mph.
  • Adolis Garcia had a 110.7 mph line out, a 105.3 mph single and a 100.6 mph home run. Corey Seager had a 108.6 mph line out double play, a 103.8 mph single and a 103.3 mph home run. Evan Carter had a 106.0 mph fly out. Josh Jung had a 105.9 mph ground out. Jonah Heim had a 103.7 mph ground out. Leody Taveras had a 101.3 mph single.
  • Save us, Jordan Montgomery!