Rapid Reaction: Rangers 8, Astros 3
ARLINGTON, Texas -- For the second night in a row, the Texas Rangers offense used a one-inning explosion to defeat the Houston Astros 8-3 on Saturday in front of a sellout crowd of 48,288, the third largest of the season. Some quick thoughts:
What it means: The Rangers locked up the Silver Boot trophy for the sixth straight year. It is the longest win streak in the history of the Lone Star Series rivalry between Texas and Houston. The win gives the Rangers their third consecutive series win. It's the first time they've won three straight series since they won six straight to start the season. The Rangers have a 4.5-game AL West lead with the Los Angeles Angels and Arizona Diamondbacks in action now.
Welcome to the big leagues: In his major league debut, Justin Grimm had a mixed first inning, allowing a single and a solo home run, but ended the frame with a strikeout. Grimm then found his rhythm and struck out the side in the second inning. From that point on, he had the game under better control.
Grimm reaper: Once Grimm figured things out, he had a solid game. He had five consecutive strikeouts from the end of the first to the beginning of the third. Grimm is the first player in Rangers history to strike out five consecutive batters in an MLB debut. He had 1-2-3 innings in the second, third and sixth innings and showed he could get out of a jam when he got the final two outs of the fourth with a runner on third. He finished the game allowing six hits, three earned runs and no walks to go with seven strikeouts. Grimm was the first pitcher to throw for seven strikeouts and no walks in a debut since Stephen Strausburg on June 8, 2010.
Another slow start: The Rangers offense struggled to get going early again, having 1-2-3 innings in the first, second and fifth. The bats started to warm up in the third when Mike Napoli hit a long single in the gap between left and center field. The next two batters reached first on consecutive fielder's choices, but no runs were scored. It wasn't until the sixth that the Rangers got a man across home plate.
Just in time: Despite only having two hits in the first five innings, the Rangers offense caught fire in the sixth and scored five runs to go up 5-3 and secure Grimm's first major league win. Craig Gentry and Ian Kinsler hit back-to-back singles and were moved over by a sacrifice from Elvis Andrus. Then the Astros made a fatal mistake, allowing Michael Young to reach on a fielder's choice while unsuccessfully trying to catch Gentry in a rundown between third and home. That loaded the bases for Adrian Beltre, who hit a two-RBI single. Nelson Cruz followed with a three-run, 431 foot home run. The Rangers batted around in the sixth and were able to keep the offense rolling the rest of the game.
Record breaker: Michael Young hit his 66th sacrifice fly in the seventh inning, moving Ian Kinsler across home plate. Young's 66 sac flys tie him with Ruben Sierra for the club record.
Agony of da-feet:In his first at bat, Cruz fouled a ball directly into his foot and almost had to leave the game. He finished the at bat with a strikeout and was able to finish, going 1-for-4 with two strikeouts and his three-run homer. The Astros' J.D. Martinez also fouled into his foot in the seventh and was able to finish.
Back in the swing of things: Two Rangers broke hitless streaks in Saturday's game. Mike Napoli got his first hit in 10 at bats with his single in the third, and Ian Kinsler broke his hitless streak of 14 at bats with his single during the sixth-inning rally. Cruz' home run in the sixth was his first in 29 at bats. Seven Rangers had hits, and eight reached first base.
Blast from the past: Both the Rangers and Astros wore throwback uniforms from 1986 for 80's weekend. The '80s Rangers logo featuring a blue state of texas with a baseball and red Rangers script was also painted behind home plate, and the scoreboard was lit up with classic yellow numbers and lettering.
Up next: The Rangers close out their three-game series with Houston on Sunday. RHP Colby Lewis (5-5, 3.13) will be on the mound against LHP Dallas Keuchel, who is making his debut. First pitch is set for 2:05 p.m. on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/FSSW. ... Less than 50 reserved seats as well as scattered singles and obstructed-view seats remain. Standing-room tickets will also go on sale tomorrow.
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.