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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Altuve's homer starting the scoring for Houston on Friday night. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
After a solid showing to take the three of the four-game series in Arlington against the Rangers to start the week, the Astros returned home for three against the Diamondbacks in a weekend series. They would have a slow start to the opener but would ultimately come away victorious.

Final Score (10 innings): Astros 4, Diamondbacks 3

Astros' Record: 87-60, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Ryne Stanek (3-4)

Losing Pitcher: Tyler Clippard (1-1)

Bielak makes the impromptu start

With Luis Garcia having to move his start ahead by a day on Thursday instead of Friday with Framber Valdez's finger cut, Brandon Bielak made a start for Houston in the opener against Arizona. He didn't go as deep as he probably would have wanted and certainly ventured out of his comfort zone with traffic on the bases.

He loaded the bases in the top of the first, allowing a single and two walks, but was able to strand all three to keep it a scoreless game. He rebounded with a 1-2-3 second, but he dealt with a threat again in the third as back-to-back singles pressured him to start the inning. He would get back-to-back strikeouts, but that's as far as he would go as Houston moved on to Blake Taylor. Taylor got the final out of the third on one pitch, then erased a two-out double in the top of the fourth.

Altuve breaks up the no-no with a go-ahead homer

Brooks Raley took over in the top of the fifth, but in his three batters, he faced allowed a single while getting two outs before Cristian Javier took over to end the frame. Javier allowed the first run of the game in the top of the sixth, a leadoff solo homer to Kole Calhoun to put the Diamondbacks in front 1-0 before he finished the inning.

Madison Bumgarner didn't allow a single hit to the Astros through the first five and two-thirds innings. He allowed a one-out walk in the bottom of the sixth, which proved costly as Jose Altuve would get the first knock of the game for Houston, a two-run go-ahead homer. Phil Maton was the next reliever for the Astros in the top of the seventh, maintaining the new one-run lead by erasing a leadoff single.

Astros get the win in extras

The Diamondbacks tied it up in the top of the eighth against Kendall Graveman, getting a leadoff single followed by a walk, then later an RBI single to knot things up 2-2. Houston stranded a runner in the bottom of the eighth, then brought in Ryan Pressly, who tossed a 1-2-3 top of the ninth to keep the game tied.

Despite getting the winning run in scoring position with a leadoff ground-rule double by Jason Castro to start the bottom of the ninth, they would strand it as the game went to extras. Arizona scored their free runner in the top of the tenth, getting a sac fly to move it to third then going in front on an RBI single.

The Astros matched that and more in the bottom of the inning, moving their runner to third on a lineout to start the frame, followed by an intentional walk to Yordan Alvarez. Jake Meyers tied the game with an RBI single, then after another walk to load the bases, Chas McCormick was hit by a pitch to bring in the winning run, moving the Astros closer to clinching their playoff berth.

Up Next: The middle game of this three-game set will have a start time of 6:10 PM Central on Saturday. Tyler Gilbert (2-2, 3.15 ERA) is expected to make a start for Arizona, while Lance McCullers Jr. (12-4, 3.12 ERA) will be on the mound for Houston.

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