Houston evens the series

Brantley's early homer lifts Astros over Rangers in pitcher's duel

Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

After a sloppy, uncharacteristic loss in the series opener, the Astros welcomed the Rangers back to Minute Maid Park on Wednesday night to try and even the series and get back in the win column. Here is how the game went:

Final Score: Astros 2, Rangers 1.

Record: 20-15, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Cristian Javier (4-1, 3.35 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Kolby Allard (0-4, 5.40 ERA).

Brantley gives Javier a lead to work with

Michael Brantley and the Astros did not wait around to get a big hit in Wednesday's game. In the bottom of the first, George Springer started Houston's night at the plate with a walk, setting up a two-run home run for Brantley, making it back-to-back games with a homer, giving Houston a 2-0 lead.

That provided Cristian Javier with a lead to work with, and he would maintain it well. After three perfect innings, the Rangers would get their first hit and run of the night on a solo home run that snuck into the Crawford Boxes in the top of the fourth, making it a 2-1 game.

Javier rebounded well from that, allowing just one more hit while nearly completing seven innings of one-run baseball. His final line: 6.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 1 HR, 93 P.

Astros hold on to the lead to even the series

Brooks Raley would relieve Javier to complete the seventh, striking out the one batter he would face. Enoli Paredes was next out of Houston's bullpen to toss the top of the eighth and worked around a one-out single thanks to an inning-ending caught stealing by Martin Maldonado to keep it a one-run Houston lead.

Houston threatened to add insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth but would strand two runners to keep it 2-1 heading to the ninth. That set up Ryan Pressly for another save opportunity, and unlike the night before, would convert it to give the Astros the win and even the series.

Up Next: The finale of this three-game series will be an afternoon game at 1:10 PM Central on Thursday. It shapes up to be an exciting pitching matchup with Lance Lynn (4-1, 1.93 ERA) getting the start for the Rangers facing off against Zack Greinke (2-0, 2.68 ERA) for the Astros.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

Life after Correa may not be the worst thing. Composite image by Jack Brame.

Carlos Correa is having a damn good year. The Astros shortstop is hitting .285 with 24 homers, 87 RBI, 72 walks, .862 OPS, a 7.2 WAR, and a .981 fielding percentage. In any other year, those would be numbers worthy of being in the mix for AL MVP (if it weren't for that dastardly Shohei Otani). Correa is also in a contract year. He and the Astros were far enough apart that the season started and he's held true to not wanting to negotiate midseason.

The offers of six years for $120 million and five years for $125 million were both rejected by he and his camp. They're seeking something much longer and for more money on the annual average. With the team unwilling to meet those demands, it seems as if the team and the player are headed for a split.

Lots of Astros fans are not happy with the prospect of Correa leaving via free agency. Some think the team isn't doing enough and should pony up to bring him back. Some feel Correa should take what they're offering because it's a fair deal that'll allow the team to sign other players. Then, there's that small band of us that are totally okay with him leaving.

One of the main reasons I'm okay with him leaving is the players the team still has under control that are potential replacements. Aledmys Diaz and Pedro Leon are the first two guys that come to mind. Diaz is a 31-year-old vet who's stepped up when he's called upon. He can slide over to third and allow Alex Bregman to play shortstop. Leon is the team's 23-year-old hot prospect who signed as an outfielder that the team has been trying to turn into a shortstop. If Correa were to leave, he could instantly plug the hole Carlos would leave behind. Either of those options lead to my next point of being okay with Correa leaving which is to...

...allocate that money elsewhere. Whether it's signing a replacement (at short or third), or boosting the pitching staff, I'll be fine as long as it's money well spent. Signing a shortstop or third baseman would determine where Bregman would be playing. If said player takes significantly less than Correa and fills 70-80% of his offensive shoes, it'll be worth it. Others will have to step it up. If they find a deal on a top of the rotation starting pitcher, that would be ideal as well. As I stated a couple of weeks ago, this team has employed a six-man rotation, but doesn't have a true ace. Spending anywhere from $20-30 million a year on a top-notch pitcher to add to the staff would bolster this staff in more ways than one. It'll finally give them the ace they lack, plus it'll bump all the young talent (still under team control) down a peg creating depth and perhaps even creating bullpen depth.

The only way any of this works is if Correa isn't back. Zack Greinke and Justin Verlander's money comes off the books also. Freeing up that much payroll and not re-appropriating those resources to ensure this team stays in contention would be a first degree felony in sports court. I don't think Jim Crane wants that for this team. I for sure don't think James Click wants that as his legacy. Let's sit back and watch how the organization maneuvers this offseason and pray they get it right.


Editor's note: If you want to read the other side of the argument, check out Ken Hoffman's piece from Tuesday.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome