Astros start second half with a loss

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 3 hits from the 5-0 loss

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

After a three-day break from the regular season, the Astros were back in action on Thursday night in Arlington against the Rangers looking to start the second half of the season with a win. Here is a recap of the first game of the four-game series:

Final Score: Rangers 5, Astros 0.

Record: 57-34, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Lance Lynn (12-4, 3.69 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Framber Valdez (3-5, 5.28 ERA).

1) Valdez unable to last a single inning

After the Astros were unable to get on the board in the top of the first, Framber Valdez took the mound to try and provide Houston with a decent start while they await the return of Brad Peacock and continue work towards a possible trade for another reliable starter.

Valdez, who had been optioned back to AAA before the All-Star break, would not shine in his return to the major-league club. Instead, he struggled and would get through just two outs while allowing the Rangers to score four runs on four hits and three walks, putting the Astros in a 4-0 hole.

Chris Devenski would come in and put the long-awaited end to the first inning and would work around a one-out single in the bottom of the second to complete that inning as well.

2) Bregman exits in the third

In the bottom of the third inning, Cy Sneed would make his second appearance of the year to relieve Chris Devenski. He worked in and out of some trouble, allowing a run to make it a 5-0 game, and would load the bases as the Rangers threatened for more, but would leave all three runners stranded with back-to-back strikeouts to end the inning.

During that inning, however, the Astros would experience a scary scene. Alex Bregman lined up to field a chopping ground ball up the middle, but before it reached him, the ball would take a big bounce right into his chin. He was visibly shaken up, resulting in his exit from the game.

3) Lance Lynn dominates 

While Framber Valdez struggled in the first inning, it was Lance Lynn on the mound for Texas who was able to dominate Houston's bats. Lynn tossed one of the best starts of his season, shutting out the Astros over seven innings while matching his season-high in strikeouts with eleven.

Sneed was able to wrap his night up with a solid line in relief, getting the Astros through the seventh while maintaining the 5-0 score. Sneed also struck out seven over his five innings, allowing just the one run back in the third in an otherwise great appearance where he ate up some valuable innings for Houston.

Josh James was next out of the bullpen and threw a seven-pitch bottom of the eighth inning. They wouldn't need anyone for the bottom of the ninth, as the Rangers were able to complete the shutout win in the top of the inning, starting Houston's second half of the season with a loss.

Up Next: Game two of this series will be tomorrow at 7:05 PM. The expected pitching matchup is Gerrit Cole (9-5, 3.09 ERA) for the Astros who will try to extend his recent hot streak as he goes up against Jesse Chavez (3-4, 3.30 ERA) for the Rangers.

The Astros daily report is presented by APG&E.

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Houston couldn't keep up

Astros fall to Blue Jays as Toronto gets homer-happy

Houston's bats couldn't keep up with Toronto's Saturday night. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

With an offensive clinic in the opener on Friday night, which helped them handily defeat the Blue Jays, the Astros returned to Minute Maid Park Saturday with a chance to secure another series. Toronto had other plans, though, reversing roles with Houston by getting big home runs to even the series.

Final Score: Blue Jays 8, Astros 4

Astros' Record: 17-16, third in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Steven Matz (5-2)

Losing Pitcher: Cristian Javier (3-1)

Toronto flips the script and turns on their offense against Javier

Toronto flipped the script from the night before early in this middle game of the series, dealing damage to Cristian Javier, who so far in 2021 had been able to limit his amount of earned runs. After retiring the first four batters he faced, a one-out walk in the top of the second set up the Blue Jays' first hit of the night, a two-run home run by Cavan Biggio, giving them a 2-0 lead over Houston.

After a leadoff home run made it a 3-0 score, Javier would deal with the fallout of more walks in the top of the third, issuing two to set up a two-out two-RBI double to give the Jays a commanding 5-0 advantage. Javier would battle back and complete five full innings, getting one out into the sixth before a walk would prompt Dusty Baker to make the call to the bullpen. His final line: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, 8 K, 2 HR, 91 P.

Alvarez keeps mashing as Houston tries to claw back into it

Javier would exit with at least some runs on the board in support of him, with Yordan Alvarez hitting a two-run opposite-field homer in the bottom of the fourth to cut the lead to three runs. Alvarez accounted for another run in the next inning, coming through with an RBI-single to make it 5-3, which is where the game stood as Andre Scrubb would take over in the top of the sixth.

Scrubb finished that inning for Javier and returned for a 1-2-3 seventh to keep it a two-run game. Bryan Abreu was the next reliever, and he, too, was able to retire the Blue Jays in order in the top of the eighth. The Astros continued to chip away at Toronto's lead, getting another run in the bottom of the inning on an RBI by Yuli Gurriel to make it 5-4 heading to the ninth.

Toronto evens the series

Brooks Raley entered to try and keep it a one-run game with a clean inning, but instead, two runners would reach on a walk and error before Joe Smith would enter to try and strand them. Instead, a two-out home run put the game back out of reach at 8-4, with Houston coming up empty in the bottom of the inning, setting up a rubber match in the finale.

Up Next: This series's third and final game will be an afternoon start of 1:10 PM Central on Sunday. Zack Greinke (2-1, 3.76 ERA) will try to add more wins to his record for Houston, while Nate Pearson will be making his 2021 debut for Toronto.

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