Houston gets win number 60

Astros secure series over Rangers with win in walk-heavy game

Astros' Yordan Alvarez
Yordan Alvarez hit a late homer to extend Houston's lead in a win over the Rangers on Saturday. Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Yordan Alvarez hit a late homer to extend Houston's lead in a win over the Rangers on Saturday.

After riding a couple of big innings to the win in the series opener, the Astros eyed a series victory on Saturday night against the Rangers. Despite struggles with the strike zone by both starting pitchers that resulted in a plethora of walks, it was still Houston that came out in front by getting timely offense and holding Texas' offense at bay.

Final Score: Astros 4, Rangers 1

Astros' Record: 60-39, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Framber Valdez (6-2)

Losing Pitcher: Kyle Gibson (6-3)

Astros jump out to an early lead as both pitchers issue walks galore

There were plenty of walks to go around in the early parts of Saturday's game, with Framber Valdez issuing two in the top of the first, but erasing them, then the Astros taking advantage of a few in the bottom half. Three of Houston's first four batters reached base via walks, loading the bases for Carlos Correa, who watched more balls come in out of the zone to walk in the first run of the night, making it a 1-0 game.

They would leave more on the table, though, with the next two batters recording outs to leave all three runners on base heading to the second, but were able to rectify that in the third. They extended their lead in the bottom of the third by more conventional means, getting two on base via a walk and double to set up sacrifice flys by Correa and Yordan Alvarez, putting them in front 3-0.

A wild, yet quality, start for Valdez

After issuing two walks each in the first and second innings but working around them, Framber Valdez settled in and started pitching efficiently in the top of the third. He retired the Rangers in order that frame, then worked around a two-out walk in the fourth. He followed that with another 1-2-3 inning in the fifth, and despite allowing his sixth walk in the top of the sixth, he was able to erase it to keep the shutout alive and keep Texas without a hit. At 99 pitches, that would be it for him, as Houston would move on to the bullpen in the next inning. His final line: 6.0 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 6 BB, 4 K, 99 P.

Houston locks up the series

After the Astros left the bases loaded for the second time in the bottom of the sixth, the first reliever out of their bullpen was Bryan Abreu in the top of the seventh. Abreu had a solid inning, working around a leadoff error that put a runner on by retiring the next three, two on strikeouts. Yordan Alvarez added a run to the lead in the bottom of the inning, blasting a solo homer to push the score to 4-0.

Ryne Stanek took over in the top of the eighth and would watch a bloop single break up the no-hitter to lead off the inning. Still, he got through the frame by striking out the side to maintain the four-run lead. Ryan Pressly entered to finish things off in the top of the ninth but would allow a one-out solo homer to break up the shutout. He finished the inning, closing out the win for Houston to secure the series and handing the Rangers their eleventh loss in a row.

Up Next: The final game of this series and this homestand will be a 1:10 PM Central start on Sunday, with the Astros slated to hit the road for eight games after the finale. The Rangers are expected to have a bullpen day, while Zack Greinke (9-3, 3.58 ERA) will take the mound for the Astros to try and finish the sweep.

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Who's really calling the shots? Composite Getty Image.

Who is actually determining how much Jose Abreu is playing right now? Is it Joe Espada or is someone telling him from the top of the organization to play Abreu and not take him out of clutch moments?

Also, could Espada be sending a message to the front office by giving them a good look at how bad he is, and how much he's hurting the team with regular playing time?

ESPN Houston's Jeremy Branham makes that case in the video above, but his radio partner Joel Blank isn't quite buying it.

Don't miss the video above for the full conversation!

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