Rapid Reaction: Rangers 6, Astros 2
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers used a five-run fifth inning and a good performance by Yu Darvish to seal a win over the Houston Astros, 6-2, on Friday. Some quick thoughts:
What it means: Texas takes the first game of this three-game series against its in-state foe. The Rangershold a 3.5 game lead in the AL West as they await the outcome of the Angels' game vs. Arizona.
Rest worth while: Yu Darvish was put on hold by the Rangers to get a few extra days of rest, and it looks like that move paid off. Darvish put in a great performance on the mound, allowing just two runs on seven hits and two walks, while recording 11 strikeouts in eight innings pitched. With the win, Darvish moves into a tie for the AL lead in wins with eight with five other pitchers, including teammate Matt Harrison.
Double digit strikeouts: Darvish recorded an impressive 11 strikeouts in Friday's win. It ties a career-high for him. He recorded 11 strikeouts May 6 at Cleveland.
Lucky break: The Rangers needed a little help to get the offense going, and that is exactly what the Astros gave them. Ian Kinsler reached on an error before Houston starter Jordan Lyles hit Elvis Andrus to put two aboard with one out in the fifth. Back-to-back singles from Michael Young and Adrian Beltre gave Texas the lead.
An inning of fives: The Rangers used five straight singles and a couple of errors to put together a five-run fifth inning to chase Lyles from the game. However, they weren't hard hit balls. Nelson Cruz, swinging away on a 3-0 count, blooped one into center that no one could get. Yorvit Torrealba also blooped one just fair into right field.
Young delivers: Michael Young was 3-for-25 with runners in scoring position in the last 33 games before driving in the first Rangers run of the night that got the offense going. Young finished 1-for-5 with an RBI.
Insurance run: Mitch Moreland provided an insurance run for the Rangers in a big way in the eighth. He hit his 10th home run of the season, and it was a no doubter (estimated 412 feet) for the sixth Rangers run of the night.
Stranded runners: Although they had the big fifth inning, the Rangers left nine runners on base, including seven left in scoring position.
Killer Bees: No, the Astros don't have the likes of Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio, but the killer bees were still in full force Friday night in the form of walks (bases on balls). The first run Darvish allowed on the night came on a RBI single from Jed Lowrie to score Jose Altuve, who led off the inning with a walk.
Getting ahead: Darvish's success Friday was partly due to getting ahead of hitters. The 25-year-old threw 21 first pitch strikes to the 31 batters he faced.
Martin: Leonys Martin was called up from Triple-A Round Rock on Friday and immediately got a start in center field. At the plate, he was 0-for-3 with walk, but he scorched a ball in his third-at bat right at Astros first baseman Brett Wallace.
Web gym: The best defensive play of the night came in the third. With a runner on first and one out, Andrus made a sliding stop going to his right to start a smooth 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
Another sellout: There was another sellout crowd on hand Friday night. The announced attendance was 47,430. It marks the 18th sellout of the season as the Rangers are three sellouts away from breaking the club record of 21 sellouts, which was set in 1994 when the stadium opened.
Up next: The Rangers and Astros go at it again Saturday at 6:15 p.m. on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1540 AM/FOX. RHP Justin Grimm will make his Major League debut after being called up from Double-A Frisco. His competitor will be RHP Lucas Harrell (6-4, 4.83).
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Rangers GM Jon Daniels joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to tackle the tough questions after his team failed to advance to the playoffs.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss having Nelson Cruz back in the lineup and how the Rangers are feeling heading into their wild-card play-in game against the Rays.
Play Podcast ESPN Insider and senior MLB analyst Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the wild-card race and the Rangers' chances of making the playoffs.
Play Podcast Chuck Cooperstein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why he feels Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish isn't an ace.
Play Podcast Elvis Andrus joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Rangers' stretch run and the morale level in their clubhouse.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss the latest Rangers news, including the team's struggles, Ron Washington's job security and a rumored trade with the Braves.
Play Podcast Ron Washington joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss the Rangers' dismal September, who's to blame for their September struggles and his status as the team's manager.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss how some people are calling for the Rangers to fire manager Ron Washington.