Texas Rangers: It’s the little things against a team as good as the Astros
By Travis Koch
Poor late inning execution cost the Texas Rangers a win against the Astros last night. Texas blew a chance to go up five to two in the Silver Boot Series.
The Texas Rangers gave the Houston Astros a game last night. Texas had a lead through four innings, but Houston clawed away from there. Mike Minor kept pace with another solid outing; however, a stressful 6th inning against the middle of the Astros lineup cut it short. He left with the game tied at two.
The Rangers got a nice appearance from Ariel Jurado in relief, though it was once again Jose Leclerc that hurt their chances of winning the ballgame.
Leclerc allowed one hit and three walks, one of which occurred against Michael Brantley with the bases loaded. As he was pulled mid-inning in favor of Jeanmar Gomez, the Rangers were down 4-2.
They faced Roberto Osuna in the 9th, who owned a 0.55 ERA and converted all eight of his save opportunities on the year. Osuna walked Shin-Soo Choo, then gave up a single to Elvis Andrus. Texas had runners on first base and third base with no outs.
Nomar Mazara struck out swinging for the first out of the inning. Up next was Hunter Pence, who stroked a liner to deep right field. The ball cleared the fence, but came to a stop in the outstretched glove of right fielder Josh Reddick. Reddick robbed Pence of a three-run go-ahead home run. It was a phenomenal catch.
Meanwhile, Shin-Soo Choo opted not to tag up from third base on the play. His blunder didn’t matter, as Andrus would have had to score from first regardless. Still, it gets you thinking about Leclerc’s bases loaded walk that gave the Astros a two-run lead. Had that not happened, the Rangers would have had the tying run 90 feet away in the top of the 9th. Perhaps Choo would’ve made the right decision in such an instance and Texas would have tied the game.
Osuna is a great closer. To fault Mazara for striking out with runners on, along with Joey Gallo, is not fair. Plus, the Rangers may very well have walked away with a victory if Pence’s ball traveled about two inches further.
The Texas Rangers are a tough opponent for any team this season. They’ve already taken two series against Houston, the bullies of the American League West. They should have begun the third series with a win, but they couldn’t execute in the late innings. That’s the difference between the Astros, a great team, and the Rangers, a good team.
The Astros’ bullpen held a lead while the Rangers’ bullpen allowed the lead to grow. The Astros’ hitters found ways to get runners to home plate in the late innings while the Rangers’ hitters left runners stranded.
That’s baseball. The scenarios and outcomes could flip tonight. Texas spoiled a nice opportunity with their ace on the mound last night, now they’ll have to grind with lesser pitching on their side. They’ll also face the tough tasks of hitting Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole the next two games. The Rangers will have little room for error, just as they did an evening ago.