Uncharacteristic errors doom Houston's chances

Costly errors hand Rangers the win over Astros

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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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After dropping the middle game to the Rangers to split the first two games, the Astros looked for an improved offensive showing in the finale on Thursday night to take the series. Here is a rundown of the rubber game:

Final Score: Astros 2, Rangers 1.

Record: 25-25, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Framber Valdez (4-3, 3.82 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Jordan Lyles (1-5, 7.07 ERA).

Valdez another Houston pitcher to thrive against Rangers

Much like Jose Urquidy on Tuesday and Lance McCullers JR. on Wednesday, Framber Valdez put up an excellent pitching line on Thursday against the Rangers. After allowing two singles in the first and a single in the second, he would settle in and hold the Rangers to just one baserunner, which came via a walk through six frames.

He would try to get through the seventh, but after a long at-bat and one-out double, Dusty Baker would stop his night and go to the bullpen. Unfortunately, that double would end up scoring as Josh James would allow an RBI-single, charged to Valdez, before finishing the inning. Along the way, Valdez was able to ring up eleven Rangers. His final line: 6.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 11 K, 0 HR, 100 P.

Kyle Tucker gets the big hit of the night

Luckily, Houston was still in the lead after the Rangers' run, thanks to a big hit by Kyle Tucker back in the second inning. After Alex Bregman reached base on a walk to become the first runner for the Astros, Kyle Tucker would break out of his recent slump with a two-run home run, putting Houston ahead 2-0 at the time.

Jordan Lyles was otherwise handling the Astros just like Kyle Gibson the night prior, who threw a complete-game shutout. Other than the Tucker homer, Lyles allowed another hit in the second and one in the third before retiring the next 12 Astros in order before an error in the seventh broke that streak, giving Houston their first baserunner since two outs in the third.

Houston takes the series and moves back up to .500

Josh James returned to the mound to start the eighth, and he would get a 1-2-3 inning against the top of Texas' lineup, including back-to-back strikeouts to end it. After another scoreless inning by Houston at the plate, that would set up a save opportunity in the top of the ninth. The opportunity would go to Brooks Raley, and he would notch the save with a scoreless inning, giving Houston the series and moving them back up to .500 at 25-25.

Up Next: The Astros' final three regular-season games played at Minute Maid Park in 2020 are this weekend in a series against the Diamondbacks. In Friday's 7:10 PM opener, Zack Greinke (3-2, 3.77 ERA) will be on the mound for Houston while Zac Gallen (1-2, 3.15 ERA) will be the starter for Arizona.

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