Houston's relievers can't get it done

Houston's bullpen falters again, Rangers secure series win

Houston's bullpen faltered once again on Saturday. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

After a tough loss in Friday's opener where a comeback to force extras was wasted, Houston returned to Globe Life Field on Saturday to try and even the series. Although they would lead early, their bullpen would once again be the cause of some of the issues that resulted in another loss, giving the Rangers a secured series win with a potential sweep in the cards for Sunday's finale.

Final Score: Rangers 8, Astros 4

Astros' Record: 26-20, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Kolby Allard (1-0)

Losing Pitcher: Andre Scrubb (1-1)

McCullers battles through five innings while teams trade runs

Both Houston and Texas put together lengthy innings at the plate in the first. The Astros sent seven batters to the plate in the top half, starting with Jose Altuve extending his hitting streak to sixteen games to start things off. They went on to load the bases with no outs, getting an RBI fielder's choice grounder by Yordan Alvarez and a sac fly by Yuli Gurriel to jump out to an early 2-0 lead. In the bottom of the inning, the Rangers worked back-to-back walks to start Lance McCullers Jr.'s day.

He went on to strike out four batters in the frame, one reaching on a wild pitch, and before things moved to the second, he had already used 40 pitches. Chas McCormick extended the lead by one more run, hitting a leadoff solo homer to start the second inning, making it 3-0. McCullers Jr. dealt with more traffic in the following innings, erasing a single and walk in the second, then allowing a two-RBI double in the third, making it a one-run game. His offense got one of those back in the top of the fourth, as an RBI groundout would make it 4-2. He finished two more innings, allowing a solo homer in his fifth and final inning, leaving with a 4-3 lead. His final line: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 7 K, 1 HR, 105 P.

Houston's bullpen blows another one

Brandon Bielak came out of the bullpen for the bottom of the sixth, getting two outs before hitting a batter and prompting Dusty Baker to move on to Andre Scrubb to finish the inning. Scrubb remained in the game in the bottom of the seventh, greeted by another homer by Adolis Garcia, a solo shot to tie the game 4-4. Scrubb would get one more out before Enoli Paredes would come in to try and keep it a tie game.

Instead, he would load the bases with a walk and an error, then giving up a two-RBI double to give the Rangers their first lead of the day at 6-4 and continuing Houston's bullpen woes. They would score two more on some defensive miscues on the final play of the inning, extending the new advantage to 8-4. That score would go final as Houston would go scoreless the rest of the way. The loss gives the Rangers a chance for the three-game sweep on Sunday, potentially returning the favor for Houston's recent four-game sweep.

Up Next: The finale of this series will start at 1:35 PM Central on Sunday, featuring a pitching matchup of Cristian Javier (3-1, 3.27 ERA) for the Astros and Mike Foltynewicz (1-4, 5.18 ERA) for the Rangers.

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Luis Garcia played his part in a pitcher's duel with Carlos Rodon on Friday night. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

With an impressive offensive onslaught to overpower Chicago in game one of this series, the Astros entered this second of four games hoping to keep their momentum going. After an impressive pitcher's duel left the game tied late into the game, Houston would edge out the win with a big walk-off in the ninth.

Final Score: Astros 2, White Sox 1

Astros' Record: 41-28, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Ryan Pressly (4-1)

Losing Pitcher: Garrett Crochet (2-3)

Garcia matches Rodon in a pitcher's duel

Both starting pitchers were very effective, save one inning, in their respective seven innings of work. For Luis Garcia, he had his struggles in the top of the first to start the game, allowing a one-out double and single to put runners on second and third, setting up an RBI single to give Chicago an early 1-0 lead.

He limited the damage to that one run, both in that inning and the rest of his night, as he would follow that with six straight scoreless frames. Once he found his groove in the fourth, he would retire 12 of 13 batters he faced over that span to get through seven one-run innings. His final line: 7.0 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, 96 P.

For Houston, it took until one out into the fifth inning to get a hit and their first baserunner against Carlos Rodon. That sparked an opportunity to grab a lead, as they would go on to load the bases still with one out but would get just one run out of it with a two-out RBI walk by Martin Maldonado to tie the game up 1-1.

Astros walk it off in the ninth

Ryne Stanek was first out of Houston's bullpen in the top of the eighth, erasing a one-out walk for a scoreless inning to keep things gridlocked. Still in a stalemate in the top of the ninth, the Astros opted to bring in closer Ryan Pressly to try and keep it tied to set up a potential walk-off. He was perfect, striking out Chicago 1-2-3 to send it to the home half.

In the bottom of the ninth, Yuli Gurriel got the winning run on base by hitting a one-out single. That brought Yordan Alvarez to the plate, who got the walk-off hit, roping a ball into the right-field corner deep enough for Gurriel to hustle from first to home to win it for Houston, 2-1.

Up Next: Now having won five in a row, the Astros will try to lock up this series in game three of four on Saturday at 6:15 PM Central. Lance Lynn (7-2, 1.51 ERA) will try to get a win for the White Sox, while Framber Valdez (3-0, 1.42 ERA) will look to continue his 2021 success for Houston.

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