HOUSTON -- With Shin-Soo Choo out for the season recovering from surgery to remove a bone chip, the Rangers will employ Leonys Martin and Daniel Robertson in the leadoff spot.

In the last seven games, the Rangers' leadoff hitters are hitting .440 with five runs scored and six walks.

Martin, who gets his 12th start as the leadoff man Saturday night against the Astros, has a slash line of .340/.421/.480 at the top of the lineup. Robertson, who reached based three times as the leadoff man Friday night, will start against left-handed pitchers.

Houston is starting Scott Feldman, a right-hander Saturday night.

"Robertson will play when it's time for him to play," manager Ron Washington said. "If for some reasons, something goes down and I have to play him against a righty, I won't hesitate to do that either. But right now, that's his role."

Holland works on fielding: Derek Holland did some fielding drills and threw a bullpen session prior to Saturday's game.
The Rangers didn't request Holland take fielding drills, it was done on his own.

"I got to work on it," Holland said in regards to his fielding. "Just because I'm (with the big club) doesn't mean I can't stop doing anything. Once the season ends, it's back to square one. Yeah, I feel great, no issues at all."

Mikolas to get more rest: Miles Mikolas was scratched Friday night from his scheduled start Saturday with shoulder issues. Mikolas (2-5, 6.44 ERA) doesn't expect to miss another start, which is supposed to be next weekend. Yet, the Rangers are being cautious with a pitcher who hasn't been a starter on a regular basis in such a long time.

"First time starting in five years," Mikolas said. "My body is kinda adjusting and I need it to catch up."

The club has no plans to give Mikolas an MRI exam and will continue to monitor his progress.

Base Hits: Washington said he likes how rookie catcher Tomas Telis calls a game and says listening to pitching coach Mike Maddux and first base coach/former big league catcher Bengie Molina between innings only helps him get better. ... The Rangers lead the majors with 20 rookies used this season. 1B Ryan Rua started Friday night against Houston. The club also leads the majors with pitchers used at 36 and will surpass the league record when Holland pitches Tuesday.

Rangers' Derek Holland activated

August, 30, 2014
Aug 30
4:41
PM CT

HOUSTON -- The Texas Rangers activated left-handed starter Derek Holland from the 60-day disabled list on Saturday. Holland has missed all of the season recovering from left knee surgery.

He will make his season debut Tuesday in Kansas City.

Holland did some fielding drills and threw a bullpen session prior to Saturday's game.

"I got to work on it," Holland said in regards to his fielding. "Just because I'm [with the big club] doesn't mean I can't stop doing anything. Once the season ends, it's back to square one. Yeah, I feel great, no issues at all."

To make room on the 40-man roster for Holland, the Rangers designated 1B/outfielder Mike Carp for assignment.

Saturday's starter, Robbie Ross Jr., was called up from Triple-A Round Rock to replace Miles Mikolas (shoulder fatigue). To clear space for Ross on the roster, the team optioned right-handed starter Nick Tepesch to Round Rock.

Tepesch may return to the Rangers next week and still take his regularly scheduled start Wednesday when the rosters expand.


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HOUSTON -- Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington threw batting practice Friday night and noticed something was different about left fielder Michael Choice.

He had a different swing in BP than in games.

After he was recalled from Triple-A Round Rock on Monday, Choice started his second stint with Texas in an 0-for-10 spell. But on Friday night, he had a career-high three hits, including a three-run homer in the fourth inning of the Rangers' 13-6 victory over the Houston Astros.

"Just kinda keeping my head down a little bit longer and using my hands and not as much body," Choice said in explaining the technique change.

Choice was on the opening day roster after a fantastic spring training, but the Arlington, Texas, native was demoted after he produced a slash line of .177/.247/.318 through July 7.

Now, however, the Rangers want to give some of their younger players, particularly Choice, more opportunities in the final two months of the season.

"He just needs to relax and trust his ability," Washington said of Choice. "Let the ball travel like he did and do the best he can to put the bat head on it, instead of trying to force things."

Rookies all over the place: The Rangers started five rookies Friday night, and they went a combined 9-of-23 with eight RBI and two home runs.

Daniel Robertson and Rougned Odor had two hits each, and Choice added three. Reliever Alexander Claudio also came in and pitched 1 2/3 innings.

"They swung the bats well," Washington said of the rookies. "They made things happen -- they really did. Robertson did a good job of making it happen for us from the beginning, a leadoff walk, and Elvis (Andrus) hits a double. Nice to see (Alex) Rios in there swinging the bat."

Roster numbers add to Washington's pain

August, 30, 2014
Aug 30
12:01
AM CT
HOUSTON -- The manager sat in his chair, legs crossed, and explained his pain very calmly.

On Friday night, Ron Washington used his 59th player of 2014, first baseman Ryan Rua, tying a major league record. In about four days, the Texas Rangers will surpass the mark either with the September call-ups or when left-hander Derek Holland pitches Tuesday at the Kansas City Royals.

Then again, the way this season is going, the Rangers might hit 60 this weekend during this series against the Houston Astros.

[+] EnlargeMichael Choice, Adam Rosales
AP Photo/Richard Carson

Michael Choice, right, who had a big night Friday, is one of the young players manager Ron Washington has used in his many lineups this season.

“It hurts because you’re a competitor, it’s why it hurts,” he said.

When Roman Mendez lost on Thursday night, he became the 23rd different pitcher to lose a game, a franchise season record.

Washington has used all sorts of people in different positions. He’s had to do more teaching than ever before at this level. The coaches have done more teaching, too.

The general manager, Jon Daniels, is using his unlimited cell phone minutes looking for talent almost on a nightly basis.

Injuries and ineffective play are the reasons why the Rangers have made so many lineup changes.

Washington’s pain subsided for one night when the Rangers beat the Astros 13-6. The victory doesn’t change the escalating roster adjustment that’s been the story in 2014.

Fans are understanding or angry.

Washington feels it.

“You still lead,” he said. “It’s never easy to swallow.”

He’s got young players trying to make it, like Arlington, Texas, native Michael Choice, still hitting under .200. Choice had a career-high three hits Friday night, including a three-run homer. Miles Mikolas, Nick Tepesch and Nick Martinez continue to figure out big league pitching and hitters.

Washington doesn’t have Yu Darvish or Shin-Soo Choo. Alex Rios is playing hurt. Colby Lewis is pitching with a bionic hip.

Seeing nifty plays from Rua, who controlled a hard throw from Adrian Beltre that skipped through the dirt in the first inning, makes you smile.

How about that 23-year-old catcher, Tomas Telis, with the presence of mind to field a relay throw and then throw out Dexter Fowler at second base in the first inning?

You see the throw Telis made to throw out Marwin Gonzalez trying to steal third? The throw was perfect. All Beltre had to do was put the glove down.

There’s talent here.

Just not enough of it.

“I still feel it. I just know I have a sense of why,” Washington said. “If I have my regular team and it wasn’t happening, it would be tough to put a finger on why. Why can’t this guy, who has this track record, not be doing this? I know the track records of the guys we have out there.”

Some of these track records aren’t very good.

A few players are keeping the Rangers above water on some nights, such as Beltre, who is in contention for the AL batting title, and Elvis Andrus, who remains a threat despite down numbers for a man from the No. 2 spot.

In a bottom-line business, maybe upper management doesn’t want to hear about excuses for this failure of a season. Washington doesn’t talk in disappointments or being frustrated. He doesn’t worry about job statuses or impressing anybody.

“I can’t control what someone else thinks,” Washington said. “I just try and do the best that I can each and every single day, and I can look in the mirror and be satisfied, that satisfies me. That’s what keeps me sane. I don’t look at management giving me a pass. I don’t look at it like that. I don’t think like that. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I do know what my intentions are today and that’s what I’m dealing with.”

Holland probably described this season better than anybody on Friday night when talking about himself. “Agony, anger and frustration,” he said.
HOUSTON -- The Texas Rangers scratched Saturday's starter, Miles Mikolas, because of shoulder fatigue after their 13-6 victory over the Houston Astros on Friday night.

Left-hander Robbie Ross will be recalled from Triple-A Round Rock to replace Mikolas. The Rangers have to make a roster move to make room for Ross.

Mikolas (2-5, 6.44) has been dealing with shoulder issues recently but has pitched through it. He tossed eight innings shutout innings on Monday night at Seattle, earning his second win of the season. He struck out five while throwing 92 pitches. Mikolas was able to pitch his normal between starts bullpen session but reported some shoulder fatigue afterward.

Rangers manager Ron Washington said there are no plans to shut Mikolas down for the season.

Ross threw 42 pitches over 2 1/3 innings in a relief appearance on Thursday for Round Rock. He gave up two hits and a walk with four strikeouts. Washington said Ross should be fine to start, despite the number of pitches thrown.

This will be Ross' third stint with the big club in 2014. He was demoted after an Aug.14 game where he gave up six earned runs in 4 1/3 innings in a 6-3 loss to Tampa Bay.

On the season, Ross is 2-5 with a 6.06 ERA. Ross was mainly used as a reliever but was able to get several starts, where he prefers to stay. He's 1-5 with a 5.40 ERA in 53 1/3 innings as a starter this season.

Mikolas becomes the second Rangers pitcher this month to get scratched from a start. Staff ace Yu Darvish has missed the last three starts with inflammation in his right elbow. He currently sits on the disabled list.

Rapid Reaction: Rangers 13, Astros 6

August, 29, 2014
Aug 29
10:46
PM CT
video

HOUSTON -- Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington said Friday night that right-hander Scott Baker’s time as a starter was over.

Derek Holland returning and the development of younger pitchers are more important.

Well, Baker is on a pretty good hot streak as he heads back to the bullpen. The Rangers have won three straight with him pitching, after the team had lost in 20 consecutive games during which he appeared.

Baker picked up his second victory as a starter as the Rangers bats did some heavy damage in a 13-6 decision over the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park.

Baker ended a 0-20 stretch when he earned a victory in relief against Tampa Bay on Aug. 12. He was inserted as a starter Aug. 24 against the Kansas City Royals after Yu Darvish picked up elbow inflammation, and won that game. It was his first victory as a starter since 2011, when he pitched for the Minnesota Twins.

On Friday night, Baker threw a season-high 93 pitches, allowing two runs on six hits in 6 1/3 innings of work. He struck out three and walked one and left after Jason Castro's solo shot in the seventh.

The Rangers' hitters helped, highlighted by Michael Choice’s three-run homer to left in a four-run fourth inning.

Rougned Odor added a three-run shot to right as part of a five-run seventh inning that all but concluded the evening of competitive baseball. It was the third time this month the Rangers scored in double-digits and second time on this 10-game road trip. The Rangers had 16 hits for the third time in 2014.

Reliever Neal Cotts had some issues finishing the game, allowing three runs in the ninth.

How it happened? The Rangers got it going quickly with an RBI double from Elvis Andrus in the first. Houston tied it on Dexter Fowler’s RBI single. But it all came apart for the home team in the fourth.

Houston’s Brett Oberholtzer, who beat Texas on Aug. 8 with seven strong innings, didn’t have any command. After Adrian Beltre and Adam Rosales reached on hits around one out, Tomas Telis singled to center to drive in Beltre for a 3-1 lead. Choice hit the first pitch he saw, a changeup, and sent it promptly against one of the billboards in left for a 6-1 lead.

It was Choice’s first homer since getting called up from Triple-A Round Rock on Monday and marked his first blast since June 20 at the Los Angeles Angels.

Debut for Rua: Ryan Rua was called up from Round Rock on Friday and played first base in his big league debut. He went 1-for-5, getting his first major league hit with a single in the seventh. Rua later scored. He was tested in the field when he made a nice play to field a ball bouncing in the dirt on a throw from Beltre. He also knocked a ball down in the fourth on a hard grounder from Jason Castro and was able to toss it to Baker to record the out.

Choice breaking out: Choice, playing left field on Friday, had started 0-for-10 start since being recalled from Round Rock. Choice said before the game he felt good about his at-bats and wanted to make sure he kept hitting strikes. It showed with his career-high three-hit night. He doubled, homered and singled.

What’s next?: RHP Miles Mikolas (2-5, 6.44) will start against RHP Scott Feldman (7-10, 4.34) at 6:10 p.m. CT on Saturday night in the third game of a four-part series in Houston.

Choice and Odor HRs lead Rangers over Astros 13-6

August, 29, 2014
Aug 29
10:34
PM CT
video

HOUSTON -- Michael Choice and Rougned Odor both hit three-run homers and the Texas Rangers cruised to a 13-6 win over the Houston Astros on Friday night.

The Rangers were up by two in the fourth inning when Choice launched his ninth home run into the Crawford Boxes in left field to push the lead to 6-1. Odor connected in a five-run seventh inning with a shot to the seats in right field to make it 13-1.

Adam Rosales and Elvis Andrus added two RBIs each for the Rangers, who have the worst record in the American League and have won just five of 14 meetings with the Astros this season.

Ryan Rua made his major league debut and became the 59th player the injury-decimated Rangers have used this season, tying the major league record set by the Padres in 2002 and 2008 and Indians in 2002.


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Pregame Notes: Holland to pitch Tuesday

August, 29, 2014
Aug 29
6:55
PM CT
HOUSTON -- The Rangers will activate left-handed starter Derek Holland from the disabled list and he will start Tuesday night against Kansas City.

Holland made his sixth and final rehab start Thursday night for Triple-A Round Rock to test his control, make sure his back and knee were fine and to build more arm strength.

Holland lasted 5 2/3 innings, allowing four runs, three earned, on 98 pitches. He said this was his best outing overall, however, his manager wasn't that impressed with his six rehab efforts.

“Yeah, I guess it is,” Ron Washington said when asked if Holland’s rehab outings were OK. “Me personally, I wanted him to dominate. I think he’s that good. He did OK."

Between Round Rock and one outing at Double-A Frisco, Holland compiled a 4.43 ERA and allowed 10 earned runs in 20 1/3 innings of work.

Holland missed the start of the season when he needed left knee surgery after suffering an injury while tripping over his dog in his house.

After proving he could pitch without leg issues, Holland missed a rehab start last Sunday with back spasms. With the Rangers expanding the rosters with September call-ups, it’s only a natural Holland gets an opportunity to get a few starts.

“It’s been a long process,” he said. “Obviously longer than what we expected. But at the same time, it was more of if we were in the pennant race, maybe we should have been back sooner. I can’t dictate that. My job is to go out there and compete and show them that I can perform and that I’m ready to go.”

Choice tries to get going: Michael Choice was fantastic in spring training.

He did what you’re supposed to do: win a spot on the roster.

Choice had a problem once the season started, he couldn’t hit and was demoted to Triple-A Round Rock on July 7. He's returned and in the last three games is hitless in 10 at-bats.

On the season, Choice is hitting .168 with a .242 OBP.

“Things are a lot different for me now,” said Choice, an Arlington native. “No. 1, I’m a lot more relaxed and I know what to expect and I’m just trying to get as many good at-bats as I can.”

The Rangers haven’t run out of patience.

“We just want to give Michael a chance to settle in,” Washington said. “It was his third game back, Mike might be a little bit shaky.”

Base Hits: RF Jim Adduci wasn’t at the ballpark Friday as he deals with a concussion. ... 1B Ryan Rua, who was called up Friday, will play first base and outfield for the Rangers. Washington said Rua’s best position is second base followed by third. Rua said he carries three gloves with him. ... Friday will be Scott Baker’s last outing as a starter because he’ll move back to long relief to accommodate Holland’s return to the rotation.

Texas Rangers tie MLB record

August, 29, 2014
Aug 29
3:57
PM CT

HOUSTON -- The old baseball adage is that you can't tell the players without a program. For the Texas Rangers, there may be a little truth to it, as Ryan Rua will become the team's 59th player this season, tying a major league record.

Rua, a rookie first baseman/outfielder, was promoted when outfielder Jim Adduci was placed on the seven-day concussion disabled list. Rua is scheduled to play in Friday night's game against the Houston Astros.

The San Diego Padres twice used 59 players in a season (2002 and 2008), while the Cleveland Indians did it in 2002.

The Rangers will likely break the record, as left-handed starter Derek Holland, who has been out the entire season while recovering from knee surgery, is close to coming off the disabled list.

Major league teams also conduct their September call-ups next week.

Adduci hit his head on the warning track and against the wall while making a sliding catch in the fourth inning of Thursday's 4-2 loss to the Astros.

To make room for Rua, the Rangers released right-handed reliever Phil Irwin.

Rua went 4-for-5 with four RBIs for Triple-A Round Rock on Thursday. He was hitting .405 with eight RBIs over the last nine games.


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Adduci to seven-day DL; team ties record

August, 29, 2014
Aug 29
3:50
PM CT
HOUSTON -- The Texas Rangers placed first baseman/outfielder Jim Adduci on the seven-day concussion disabled list Friday.

Adduci hit his head making a sliding catch in the fourth inning of Thursday night's loss to the Houston Astros. Adduci hit his head twice, on the track and against the wall.

Adduci was replaced on the active roster by first baseman/outfielder Ryan Rua, who was promoted from Triple-A Round Rock.

Rua, who's in Friday's lineup and batting fifth, will become the 59th player used by the Rangers this season, tying the major-league record for players used in a single season.

San Diego (2002 and 2008) and Cleveland (2002) are the other teams to have done it.

To make room for Rua, the Rangers released right-handed reliever Phil Irwin.

Rua went 4-for-5 with four RBIs in Thursday night's game for Triple-A Round Rock. Rua was hitting .405 with eight RBIs the last nine games.

Derek Holland feels better, ready to go

August, 29, 2014
Aug 29
1:00
PM CT
videoHOUSTON -- On Thursday night, Rangers left-hander starter Derek Holland made his sixth and final rehab start at Triple-A Round Rock.

Holland pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowing four runs -- three earned -- against Nashville. Holland, who threw 98 pitches, gave up two, two-out home runs in his outing.

Holland missed his last outing with back spasms, which he said didn't pose a problem for him Thursday night. He's missed the entire season while recovering from left knee surgery.

The knee hasn't been a problem for Holland, who has been moving well toward first base when he needs to field his position, and now he's ready to pitch with the big club.

"I felt good," Holland said. "I think the big thing was to just test my back and make sure everything was OK with that from there. I felt good and continue to pound the zone and just getting myself ready, that's the main thing. Just to get back to make sure I'm ready to go."

When Holland will pitch for the Rangers hasn't been determined. He will be with the Rangers on Friday when they continue their 10-game road trip through Houston and he could be on the mound when the club visits Kansas City for three games early next week.

There is no rush at this stage for Holland to pitch, other than to prove to the front office that he's healthy after major knee surgery. It's just one more thing GM Jon Daniels can cross off his list of things to worry about heading into the offseason.

"This is what I've been working for," Holland said of returning. "I wanted to show people I can get back up there and I'm ready to go and I've been working my butt off to get back there, whether the season has been good or not, my main focus is just being a part of the team."

Extra Bases: Tepesch struggles again

August, 29, 2014
Aug 29
11:00
AM CT
HOUSTON -- Rangers starter Nick Tepesch had a stretch where he allowed three or fewer runs in four consecutive starts.

After Thursday night, Tepesch has given up eight runs in his last two outings. He wasn't the pitcher of record in the 4-2 loss to the Astros, that was reliever Roman Mendez, but Tepesch had some responsibility in the loss.

"He was laboring and he had to trouble from pitch one and in every inning he was in trouble," manager Ron Washington said. "That inning, right there we got to the middle of the order there and just felt like we needed to try and shut that inning down and Mendez just couldn’t get that done."

Tepesch (4.44 ERA in 18 games) had just one lone 1-2-3 inning, the first, and as Washington noted, everything was a struggle. In the decisive fifth inning, he allowed a one-out hit and a one-out walk before Washington yanked him for Mendez, one of his more reliable relief pitchers.

Tepesch watched as Mendez allowed an infield hit then a grand slam to Jason Castro that gave the Astros a 4-2 lead.

"It was long innings, just no clean innings, really," said Tepesch, who threw 89 pitches. "A lot of pitches per inning, it's tough to pitch deep into games when you throw so many pitches."

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HOUSTON -- Adrian Beltre stood in front of his locker trying to figure out why a few reporters wanted to speak with him on a Thursday night.

One of the few bright spots on this Texas Rangers team, Beltre pulled his bats out of their bag while downplaying the second biggest race this team will deal with in the next 30 days or so: the AL batting title.

Outside of the Silver Boot and avoiding the worst record in baseball, Beltre is competing with Houston's Jose Altuve and Detroit's Victor Martinez for the batting crown.

[+] EnlargeAdrian Beltre
Stacy Revere/Getty ImagesWhile the Rangers have had an off season, Adrian Beltre continues to get his work done. "It doesn't matter what the situation [is]; when I'm at home plate, I want to beat the pitcher," he said.
“I have no chance,” Beltre joked. “Altuve, great hitter, Victor Martinez, they’re better hitters than me. I just hope I end up third. I’m hoping I can hang up with them and up there.”

Individual titles and other accomplishments mean little to Beltre, who finished his evening 1-for-4 with two strikeouts in a 4-2 loss to the Astros.

Beltre came in to the game all alone in third place in hitting; now he's tied for third with Robinson Cano of Seattle with a .325 average. Martinez is second at .327 and Altuve -- with his fifth-inning single -- remains in the lead at .332.

Beltre would welcome a first batting crown of his career but doesn't cherish it.

“What is good about this year?” he asked. “I don’t look at it that way. I’m just glad not being one of those guys that got hurt. It’s been so bad that I think that anybody who is healthy is lucky this year. Everything is going south for us, but I don’t look at it as a personal thing. I’m just glad to be out there to contribute and help our team find a way to win ballgames. I’m still trying not to be in last place in this division.”

Injuries have decimated the Rangers this season.

It’s gotten so bad that Yu Darvish, their ace and the best thing going for this team, is out with right elbow inflammation. His season is probably over now, as it should be.

Beltre's season continues as he watches regulars Alex Rios (ankle and thumb) and Elvis Andrus deal with nagging injuries. Shin-Soo Choo is done because he’ll undergo elbow surgery on Friday to remove a bone chip. Choo played the bulk of the season with a sprained ankle, as well.

“Yeah, it’s true, a couple of guys been playing through tough injuries,” Beltre said. “Rios has been playing with ankle and hand injuries; Choo was playing with a bad ankle. For the most part, I’ve been good enough and healthy to be out there every day. Every year through a season, as a player, we always find a way to be out there. Some [injuries] are more difficult to play with. Rios’ is very difficult to play with. He’s trying to battle through it, and we appreciate that. But at the same time, he’s the type of guy who likes to be out there and likes to prove to his teammates that he wants to be out there.”

The batting lineup hasn't provided Beltre much protection. Prince Fielder (neck) and Mitch Moreland (ankle) are done for the season. Rios is having a down season, numbers wise, and GM Jon Daniels is doing all he can to keep this thing together. He’s formulating his plan to improve the club in 2015, and there’s a confidence level he can.

“Besides the difference in protection, the lineup we might have if everybody was healthy and different guys in front of me or behind me hitting, it’s the same stuff,” Beltre said. “I’d still have to do my job every day. It doesn’t matter what the situation [is]; when I’m at home plate, I want to beat the pitcher.

"Because we don’t have the team we’re supposed to have and everything is not going the way we want this year, I’m not going to home plate trying to get an out. It’s not going to happen. I have a job. I don’t think it’s an excuse not to compete well because the team is not doing well.”

Rapid Reaction: Astros 4, Rangers 2

August, 28, 2014
Aug 28
10:49
PM CT


HOUSTON -- It was one of those situations when Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington needed to see a few things from his pitchers.

He wanted consistency from 25-year-old starter Nick Tepesch and to check out how 24-year-old reliever Roman Mendez dealt with some adversity.

Each failed Thursday night, as the Rangers' two-game winning streak ended in a 4-2 defeat to the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park.

Tepesch was pulled with one out and two on in the fifth inning after throwing 89 pitches, and Mendez was asked to clean up the mess. Mendez couldn’t and sealed his own fate, as well as that of the Rangers, by allowing a grand slam to Jason Castro for Castro's 13th home run of the season.

You could debate Washington's move to take out Tepesch, who didn't seem happy to come out, and bring in Mendez.

At times you need to find something out about your young players, and this is what Washington is doing.

How it happened? The Rangers gave Tepesch a 2-0 lead when Leonys Martin scored on a Mike Carp double play in the first and Robinson Chirinos came in on Carp’s sacrifice fly out in the third.

Tepesch couldn’t maintain the lead and the young pitcher got into trouble in the fifth. After a one-out hit to Jose Altuve, he walked Chris Carter and Washington had seen enough.

Mendez didn’t have his best stuff and Dexter Fowler reached on a slow roller to short. Adrian Beltre, who moved over from third to field the ball could have let shortstop Elvis Andrus make a play on it. It didn’t matter, because Castro sent a shot to right that gave the Astros a 4-2 lead. It was just the second homer allowed by Mendez this season.

Adduci leaves with injury: Right fielder Jim Adduci left the game in the fourth inning with an apparent head/neck injury. Adduci made a wonderful, running catch in foul territory in right. Adduci flipped over second baseman Rougned Odor as he made the catch, and his head hit the track then slammed into the padded wall. Adduci, who went 0-for-2, left on his own power. Team officials said he will be further evaluated.

Mendez has a rough night: Mendez entered the game having allowed no runs in his last seven innings, a span of eight games that lowered his ERA to 1.23. He started his career with eight scoreless appearances, tying a club record set by Alexi Ogando. Left-handed hitters were just 5-for-35 against Mendez until Castro homered off him in the fifth. Mendez did retire the next two lefties, Marc Krauss and Jon Singleton. It was an uneven performance for Mendez, who has been very good this season. He allowed two runs on two hits with one walk and two strikeouts in 1 2/3 innings.

What’s up with the crowd? It was a sparse crowd at the start of Thursday’s game. With the Houston Texans playing their final preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers and Texas A&M playing its SEC opener at South Carolina, there were plenty of seats available at Minute Maid Park. The lower bowl wasn’t even half full and the final tally came in at 16,399. It wasn’t the smallest crowd of the season at Minute Maid Park, but it sure looked that way for a while.

What’s next? RHP Scott Baker (2-3, 5.45) vs. LHP Brett Oberholtzer (4-9, 4.01) face each other Friday night at 7:10 CT. Baker has won games in his last two appearances, one relief and one starting, after the Rangers had gone 0-20 in games he pitched.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Adrian Beltre
BA HR RBI R
.327 17 68 68
OTHER LEADERS
HRA. Beltre 17
RBIA. Beltre 68
RA. Beltre 68
OPSA. Beltre .880
WY. Darvish 10
ERAY. Darvish 3.06
SOY. Darvish 182