Rangers vs Astros – Series Recap
Friday – Game 1
Well, this one certainly did not go the way Texas drew it up. In the home opener of the 2015 season, the Rangers fell to the Astros by the score of 5-1. Texas had a tough time getting much going offensively, thanks in large part to the effort by Houston starting pitcher (and former waiver claim) Collin McHugh, who allowed one run in six innings while striking out four. For the Rangers, Anthony Bass performed admirably out of the bullpen, pitching five strong innings while allowing one run. Delino DeShields Jr provided the only RBI of the day on a fielder’s choice, while Prince Fielder continued his hot start by going 3-4 with a double.
While losing the first game of the season in front of the home crowd to the Astros is unfortunate, it does not sting nearly as bad as what happened to some of the Rangers’ key players. Derek Holland, who missed almost all of 2014, was able to make his first start of the season on Friday after experiencing some shoulder stiffness in his left throwing shoulder during spring training. Holland only lasted nine pitches before he was replaced by Bass in the second inning. Holland was later diagnosed with a subscapularis strain in his shoulder, and is expected to miss at least the next two months. This is a crushing blow not only for this fan base, but also for Derek. Those who followed the team during spring training might have noticed that with Yu Darvish out for the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, Holland was more than ready to lead this pitching staff. Hearing him talk about what happened and seeing the look in his eyes just breaks your heart.
The Rangers might not need a fifth starter until May 2nd due to off-days in the schedule, so additional bullpen help was called up in the righty Jon Edwards, who was promptly replaced by the recently acquired Stolmy Pimentel.
In the top of the third inning, right fielder Shin-Soo Choo, who was also greatly hindered by injury in 2014, was pulled from the game due to what the club has called “upper-back spasms” and is expected to be day-to-day after responding well to treatment in the clubhouse.
Finally, left fielder Ryan Rua was removed from the game after chasing down a ball in the top of the fifth. After the game, Rua was in a walking boot and was told that he had a significant sprain in his right ankle. He was assigned to the 15-day DL shortly after the game concluded. Carlos Peguero was called up to replace his spot on the roster.
Going along with his mantra of “Never Ever Quit,” new manager Jeff Banister has stated repeatedly that there will be no excuses made for injuries. Banister has said that he lives by a philosophy of expecting “three bad hops” per day, and that one cannot slow down or complain about those things – life goes on, and you need to be prepared to respond in stride with grace and fortitude. On Friday, his team took on three wicked hops. How this team responds mentally and on the field should be a reflection of how well the players have prepared themselves to battle through adversity.
Saturday – Game 2
This one went well in nearly all aspects of the game. Adrian Beltre got the scoring started early by scoring on a triple and an error in the first inning. Peguero went 2-5 with a double and an RBI in his first action with Texas. Mitch Moreland had two hits and reached base safelyfour times. Outfielder Jake Smolinski, who should see an increase in playing time with Rua on the DL, went 0-2 but walked twice and score two runs. Something positive that is not in a box score is Rougned Odor‘s (hopefully) increasingly mature approach to hitting. The 21-year old saw three pitches per PA in the first series of the season, but saw 22 pitches over his four plate appearances (5.5 per), including an eight pitch walk and a six pitch double. In total, the Rangers tallied six runs on nine hits, and were helped out by three Astros errors.
Yovani Gallardo was sharp in his first home start of the season. He had great command of his breaking ball and was able to strike out seven while only walking one. He was charged with two earned runs, but one of those runs came in after reliever Jon Edwards walked in an inherited runner. Keone Kela, Shawn Tolleson, and Neftali Feliz combined for three shutout innings out of the bullpen, each allowing one hit.
Sunday – Game 3
The Rangers dropped the rubber game of the series in 14 innings by the score of 6-4. Starting pitcher Colby Lewis had a rough second inning, in which four runs scored, but he rebounded and was able to pitch into the eighth inning without allowing any more runs to score. The Rangers bats starting working in the seventh, when Leonys Martin laced a 2-run, 2-out RBI single to center field. In the eighth, the Rangers were able to tie the game at four without having to swing the bat much thanks to two walks and two HBP in the frame. After coming up empty in multiple chances in extra-innings (including this sensational game saving catch by George Springer), the Rangers sent righty Logan Verrett to the mound in the top of the 14th inning, where he gave up a two run homer to backup catcher Hank Conger. That homer would stand to be the difference, and the Astros took the game, the series, and the lead in the battle for the Silver Boot.
The Rangers now ready themselves for a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels. In Game 1, lefty Ross Detwiler looks to bounce back from his Rangers debut in which he gave up five earned runs in 4.1 innings. The Angels will send Matt Shoemaker to the mound, who got the win in his first start of 2015 against Seattle.