Normally when someone takes the fifth it refers to the fifth amendment and their right to not incriminate themselves. Last night against the Astros the Rangers took the fifth inning and the game. Let's recap what happened in that eventful inning.
Top of the Fifth
The Rangers entered the fifth inning coming off a spectacular double play made by Adolis Garcia in right field. He made a snow cone catch in the right field corner at the wall with his back turned. Jake Meyers who was on first decided to tag and try to advance to second. Garcia turned around and threw a high throw that landed right in Josh Smith's glove and he tagged out Jake Myers in a play that was not even close. That brought the Rangers to the dugout and they had a 3-1 lead to kick off this inning.
Leody Taveras, who was just activated on Wednesday and went 0-3, was able to get his first hit of the season. Marcus Semien followed that with a single. Runners were at first and second. Josh Smith then was next and he bunted both runners over to second and third.
That brought up Nathaniel Lowe who already had an RBI double in the first inning that got the Rangers on the board. He battled Luis Garcia and fouled off curveballs and sliders over the first four pitches. Finally on the fifth pitch he got a fastball on the inside corner and he inside outed the ball and lifted it over Jeremy Pena's head and it landed in shallow left field. That allowed Taveras and Semien to both score and increase the lead to 5-1. Garcia and Jung would both follow up with strikeouts to end the inning. The Rangers had added two to their lead and given Martin Perez a comfortable four-run margin as he headed back out for the bottom of the fifth.
Bottom of the Fifth Inning
Martin Perez came into the bottom of the fifth at 63 pitches. The Astros had only scored one run against him to that point on a Yordan Alvarez home run to left field in the third inning. They had made Martin work though and he was about to go through their lineup for a third time in this fifth inning. Pere would be facing the eight, nine, and one hitters to start things in the fifth inning.
Maurice Dubon who is playing second base in place of Jose Altuve led off the inning by grounding out to Josh Smith at short. Catcher Martin Maldonado was next and he hit a home run to deep left center field to cut the deficit to 5-2. Now the fearsome top of the order was coming up. Jake Meyers followed up the home run with a walk in a six pitch at-bat. Next was third baseman Alex Bregman. He pulled a single to left field to move Meyers to second.
That brought the beast Yordan Alvarez to the plate. The Astros broadcast took note that Alvarez in his career had a .614 slugging percentage with runners in scoring position. Alvarez had homered in his last at-bat and was now standing at the plate as the tying run. This was maybe Perez's finest at-bat of the night. Pressure was on, crowd was getting loud, and Alvarez was standing in front of him. Perez honed in on his command and struck out Alvarez on five pitches. He got Alvarez on a sinker that dove down and in at his feet. It was a great pitch in a stressful situation.
Perez was not out of trouble yet though. He still had to face Jose Abreu the former AL MVP in his time with the White Sox. Abreu came up as the tying run now with two outs. Perez kept Abreu off-balance in this at-bat by going inside and outside and never in the middle of the plate. Finally on the sixth pitch he came inside with a sinker and Abreu made contact and hit a line drive that went right back up the middle and tagged Perez on the back. He was able to knock it down with his backside and then picked it up and threw it to first to end the threat.
The score to begin the inning was 3-1. At the end of the inning the Rangers now led 5-2. They outscored the Astros in this inning 2-1. Perez would come on to face Kyle Tucker in the sixth, but after a single by Tucker he was removed from the game. Perez went 5.0 innings plus one batter and gave up five hits, two solo home runs, four strikeouts, and four walks.
After Perez left the game, the bullpen shut it down from there. A combination of Dane Dunning, Will Smith, and Jose Leclerc closed the door for the Rangers and kept the Astros from scoring another run. The Rangers would win the first game of this important series 6-2.
Analyst CJ Nitkowski after the game called it a statement win by the Rangers and I tend to agree with him. The Rangers have not won a series in Houston since 2018 and improved to 6-29 in Houston since 2019. Now they have two games to win one and win a series in Houston for the first time since July 2018. The Rangers with the win stay on top of the AL West and improve their record to 8-5 on the season.
Preview of Tonight's Game
Tonight's game will have a little earlier start time as it will start at 6:05pm. It will be Jon Gray going up against Hunter Brown.
Gray is coming off picking up his first win of the season against the Chicago Cubs. He went 5.2 innings in the series finale against the Cubs. He struck out four, walked three, and gave up two runs in the 8-2 victory over Chicago.
Hunter Brown also picked up his first win of the season his last time out. He went seven innings in Minnesota was dominant in that start as he gave up zero runs, and had seven strikeouts to two walks. He actually made his MLB debut against Texas last September 5th. That start was also in Houston and he went six innings, zero runs, only three hits, with five strikeouts, and one walk. Texas will be looking to perform better than they did that night.
Game time again is 6:05pm and it will be broadcast by Bally Sports Southwest.