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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Yordan Alvarez's homer in Wednesday's game gave him 100 RBI on the season. Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Winners of three straight, six of their last seven, and eight of their last ten, the Astros had the chance to move yet another game closer to clinching their playoff spot if they could secure the series with a win against the Angels on Wednesday. Even though it looked as though they were headed towards a loss in extra innings, they would ultimately come out ahead.

Final Score (12 innings): Astros 9, Angels 5

Astros' Record: 91-61, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Yimi Garcia (4-9)

Losing Pitcher: Sam Selman (0-1)

Garcia goes six shutout innings

Although he didn't have swing-and-miss dominance in this start, Luis Garcia could still capitalize on a struggling Angels offense and post a shutout quality start against them. He allowed three walks and three hits throughout his outing but stranded all of them while getting outs on balls in play. His final line: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 79 P.

Alvarez reaches 100 RBI as Houston's offense keeps rolling

That performance had Garcia in line for the win, as two homers handed him a 3-0 advantage which he held. Houston once again used early offense to take a first-inning lead, as a leadoff walk by Jose Altuve turned into a monster 456-foot by Yordan Alvarez, pushing him to 100 RBI on the season. The score held at 2-0 until the top of the fifth, when Jason Castro led that frame off with a solo homer to extend the lead to three runs.

Extras in Anaheim

Phil Maton was first out of Houston's bullpen in the bottom of the seventh, but a single, double, and walk loaded the bases with no outs to put him in a jam. A lineout kept the runners put for the first out, but a single and a walk would make it a one-run game and left the bases loaded as Maton would get pulled.

Kendall Graveman entered to try and stop the bleeding, but after a force out at home to put that within reach, Jack Mayfield came through for Los Angeles with a go-ahead three-run double, giving the Angels their first lead of the series at 5-3. In the top of the eighth, a walk by Alex Bregman brought Alvarez back to the plate, and he would nearly miss a game-tying homer and instead got an RBI-single to make it 5-4.

Alvarez would still come in to tie the game, hustling home from second on an RBI single by Yuli Gurriel to knot things up 5-5. Brooks Raley was Houston's next reliever, and he sat down LA in order with two strikeouts. Still tied in the bottom of the ninth, Ryan Pressly came in to force extras, and despite being shadowed by the winning run on the bases after a leadoff single, retired the next three batters to send the game to the tenth.

Astros keep battling and take it in the twelfth

Jake Meyers took second base as Houston's free runner in the top of the tenth, but he would go nowhere as the Astros went down in order, giving the Angels another chance at a walk-off. Instead of giving Shohei Ohtani a free pass immediately, Houston would let Blake Taylor throw two balls to him before giving him the intentional walk.

Taylor then gave up a single to load the bases with no outs, and after getting a force out at home for the first out, Yimi Garcia would replace him. Thanks to a great play by Chas McCormick, giving him multiple in the game, the Astros would live to see another inning as he would make a great catch in right field and then throw out Ohtani at home.

In the top of the eleventh, a sac fly by Yuli Gurriel moved Aledmys Diaz to third, but that's as close as Houston would come, leaving them stuck at five runs. After Garcia retired three more batters in the bottom of the eleventh, the game moved to the twelfth, where Houston would get back in front on an RBI single by Jake Meyers, then padded the new lead on a two-RBI double by Jose Altuve, who would also score on a sac fly by Alex Bregman, making it 9-5. Josh James came in and wrapped things up in the bottom half as Houston secured the series victory and reduced their magic number to two against Oakland and three against Seattle.

Up Next: The finale of this four-game series, and the last time these two teams will meet this year, will be an 8:38 PM Central start on Thursday. The expected pitching matchup is Alex Cobb (8-3, 3.59 ERA) for Los Angeles and Lance McCullers Jr. (12-4, 3.11 ERA) for Houston.

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