Well, that didn’t exactly go as well as we wanted. Tonight the Rangers lost to the almost undisputed worst team in baseball, Houston, 8-2, dropping us to last place — even if it’s only for tonight.
Matt Harrison (0-1) threw a pretty strong 5.2 innings, though the end results aren’t particularly inspiring. He tallied 9 strikeouts (which is two more than his season-high total of 7 K’s last year), allowing 6 runs (5 earned) on six hits and 3 walks.
Houston starter Bud Norris went 5.2 innings, allowing just two runs on five hits, striking out 5.
There were three pinnacle moments in the game:
(1) With two on and two out in the bottom of the 4th, Harrison served a fastball on the inner-third of the plate, and Houston outfielder Justin Maxwell muscled it off the top of the pressed-in left field wall, scoring two runs. With the possible exception of Fenway Park, it was a routine fly ball that would have been the third out in any other ballpark.
(2) In the top of the 6th, after plating two runs to cut what was a 4-0 Astros lead squarely in half, Houston manager Bo Porter called upon former Orioles TORP, Erik Bedard, to extinguish the Ranger rally. Bedard eventually got the left-handed A.J. Pierzynski to harmlessly fly out to center.
(3) In the bottom half of the 6th — again with two outs and two men on — Ron Washington chose to relieve Matt Harrison in favor of RHP Derek Lowe. Harrison finished at precisely 100 pitches, 61 going for strikes. Porter countered with Rick Ankiel to pinch-hit, and, well, pinch-hit he did, depositing a hanging sinker into the right field seats. It gave the Astros a 7-2 lead, and effectively dropped the Rangers chances of winning from 14.7% to a meager 2.5% — according to WPA.
The Rangers finished the night with a mere two runs on just six hits — two apiece from Nelson Cruz and Lance Berkman — and a single for each David Murphy and A.J. Pierzynski. The Rangers did not record an extra-base hit.
Being that tonight was the only game on the baseball docket, the Rangers and Astros will get tomorrow off while everyone else in the Majors experiences their own Opening Day. Both teams will resume play on Tuesday, where Ranger ace, Yu Darvish, will look to even the series against 27 year-old Astro righty Lucas Harrell.