HOUSTON -- It seemed as if the Rangers were ready to get out of town. Maybe they were tired of beating the lowly Houston Astros.
The Rangers didn't do much at the plate or on the mound Thursday night in a 7-0 loss at Minute Maid Park. This is one of those losses team president and CEO Nolan Ryan is talking about. You beat up a team one night and don't do anything the next. After losing two consecutive games to the New York Mets last weekend, the Rangers came here to win the Lone Star Series and take the Silver Boot home. They did that by taking the first two games of the series, but Thursday night provided little in going for the sweep. It was the first time the Rangers were shut out since May 21 at Philadelphia.
Matt Harrison gets roughed up: The Rangers left-hander pitched out of trouble most of the evening. In his 110-pitch outing, he gave up five runs on seven hits and two walks. He allowed a home run to Carlos Lee, his second in as many days, that gave the Astros a 1-0 lead in the fourth. But the fifth inning is where Harrison lost it all. Witih one out, he hit leadoff hitter Michael Bourn. After the runner was moved over, Hunter Pence hit a bouncer to third base. Adrian Beltre fielded the ball cleanly, but his off-balance throw skipped past first baseman Michael Young, allowing the run to score. Lee was given a free pass. Jason Michaels, he of the .208 batting average, doubled down the right field line for a two-run double. At first, it appeared to be a triple, but the ball bounced off the chalk and hit off a snow cone vendor's tray and back onto the field. (We can't make this stuff up). When the inning was over, the Astros were ahead 5-0. Harrison has now lost three of his last four starts.
Elvis Andrus returns: Starting shortstop Elvis Andrus returned to the Rangers' lineup after missing the last four games with a sprained left wrist. Andrus, who wore a brace on his wrist, reached base three times (two singles and a walk) and stole two bases. When he stole second in the first inning, he slid feet first. Andrus also committed an error in the first inning, but it had nothing to do with his wrist. He just couldn't get the ball out of his glove as he tried to rush a throw he was never able to get off.
Josh Hamilton busy in the field: It was just the other night when outfielder Hamilton was talking about thinking about how diving could get him hurt. Well, in one inning, Hamilton, who was on the DL for a broken bone in his left shoulder, slammed into the wall in left to make a catch and then made a full-extension diving grab to rob Chris Johnson of an extra-base hit. Hamilted landed hard after the second catch but was seen smiling after the play.