Uncharacteristic errors doom Houston's chances

Costly errors hand Rangers the win over Astros

Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

With several postponed games last week, including Sunday's game against the A's before the scheduled off-day on Monday, the Astros were back in action Tuesday night to begin the 2020 regular season's final stretch. Their opponent was the Texas Rangers, playing them for the first time this season. Here is a recap of the game:

Final Score (10 innings): Rangers 6, Astros 5.

Record: 19-15, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Jonathan Hernandez (5-0, 1.77 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Blake Taylor (1-1, 1.15 ERA).

Valdez battles through seven innings

After some successful outings with a strong command of the zone so far in 2020, Framber Valdez would be somewhat volatile on Tuesday, starting in the top of the first. He started the game by putting the first batter on base with a hit-by-pitch before watching him come around to score after an errant throw to first base on a groundball in the next at-bat.

That made it 1-0, but the Rangers would double that on an RBI-single later in the top of the first, starting Valdez's night off on the wrong foot. He would do well to mostly settle back in following that tough frame, tossing scoreless second and third innings before a leadoff single in the fourth would score a third run on an RBI-triple later in the inning.

Again, he would rebound from the brief setback, going on to complete seven innings and racking up another impressive strikeout performance. His final line: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 8 K, 0 HR, 94 P.

Brantley comes through to put the Astros in front

The Astros had just two hits through the first five innings, both singles by Jose Altuve, who would be left stranded both times. Finally, they would score him in the sixth, as he would get his third hit of the night, move to third on a single by Kyle Tucker, then score on an RBI-single by Carlos Correa to trim Texas' lead to 3-1.

In the bottom of the seventh, Houston would get their first two batters on base on infield singles, then Michael Brantley came through with a huge go-ahead three-run home run to give the Astros their first lead of the night, 4-3.

Rangers even it up in the ninth to force extra innings

Enoli Paredes was first out of Houston's bullpen, taking over for Valdez to start the top of the eighth. He would erase a leadoff single and no-out walk, getting a flyout and double play to keep the one-run lead intact heading to the ninth.

Ryan Pressly would not do as well, allowing a leadoff solo home run to tie the game 4-4 to start the top of the ninth. He would get through the inning, erasing a one-out single with an unconventional double play to end the half-inning.

In the bottom of the ninth, Abraham Toro led off with a single to get the winning run on base. Martin Maldonado moved him to second with a sacrifice bunt, but the Rangers would retire George Springer and Jose Altuve to force extra innings.

Errors doom Houston in the tenth

Blake Taylor would come on for the top of the tenth, but after a groundout to move the free runner to third, he would commit a balk to bring in the go-ahead run and make it 5-4. Texas tacked on one more on a two-out groundball that dribbled in front of Martin Maldonado before overthrowing first base and depositing it into right field.

Houston would get another timely hit from Michael Brantley, who started the bottom of the tenth with an RBI-single to make it a one-run game in the bottom of the tenth. That's as close as they'd come, though, as Texas would hold on to the one-run lead to take the series opener.

Up Next: The middle game of this three-game series will be another 7:10 PM start on Wednesday. Cristian Javier (3-1, 3.77 ERA) will continue his rookie campaign for the Astros while Kolby Allard (0-3, 6.50 ERA) will start for the Rangers.

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McCullers Jr. out-pitched friend and former teammate Dallas Keuchel on Father's Day. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

With three impressive wins to start this series against the once AL-leading Chicago White Sox, Houston tried to extend their winning streak to seven games and finish a four-game sweep on Father's Day. Thanks to a big inning against former-Astro Dallas Keuchel, they would win to keep their hot streak going.

Final Score: Astros 8, White Sox 2

Astros' Record: 43-28, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (4-1)

Losing Pitcher: Dallas Keuchel (6-2)

Rough return to Houston for Keuchel

In his first game against his old squad, Dallas Keuchel would not have a memorable start on the mound for Chicago. Houston made him labor in the first inning, loading the bases though they only came away with one run on an RBI single by Abraham Toro, grabbing the early 1-0 lead. After going down 1-2-3 in the second, they got after Keuchel again in the third.

They ended up batting around against him that inning, including a two-RBI single by Yordan Alvarez, RBI double by Taylor Jones, and bases-loaded RBI-walk by Jose Altuve, which would end Keuchel's day very early and leave the bases juiced. Chicago's bullpen would walk another batter to give Keuchel another earned run, making it a 6-2 game, with all six going against the former Houston ace. Carlos Correa extended the lead to five runs in the next inning, hitting a leadoff solo home run to make it 7-2.

McCullers Jr. gives up two over six

That gave Lance McCullers Jr. a nice lead to work with, and he managed it well. He had one big mistake in the early goings of the game, giving up a one-out single in the second to set up a two-run home run, which at the time put Chicago in front 2-1 before Houston's offense came alive. He followed that up with four scoreless innings, erasing a walk in each with some tremendous defense behind him—his final line: 6.0 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, 94 P.

Astros complete the sweep to jump on top of the standings

Still a six-run game in the top of the seventh, Blake Taylor entered as the first reliever out of Houston's bullpen, tossing a 1-2-3 frame. He continued in the top of the eighth, getting two strikeouts in another scoreless inning. The 8-2 score would go final as Ralph Garza Jr. would enter as the third pitcher of the day to wrap things up with a scoreless top of the ninth to finish the four-game sweep. The win, their seventh straight, paired with an Oakland loss earlier in the afternoon, moves Houston into the top spot in the AL West based on winning percentage.

Up Next: This long stretch of consecutive games continues on Monday in Baltimore, as the Astros pick up a seven-game road trip starting with a three-game set against Baltimore getting underway at 6:05 PM Central. Jake Odorizzi (1-3, 5.68 ERA) will get the start for Houston, going opposite of Keegan Akin (0-2, 5.76 ERA) for the Orioles.

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