Sunday, June 17, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Rangers 9, Astros 3
By Randy Jennings
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers relied on yet another big inning and a strong pitching effort from Colby Lewis to finish a three-game series sweep of the Houston Astros, 9-3, Sunday afternoon before a Rangers Ballpark sellout crowd of 46,320.
Lewis (6-5) in seven innings struck out 10, walked one and checked Houston on three hits, all singles. He allowed one run.
The Rangers did little off the Astros' Dallas Keuchel, making his major league debut. But once into the Houston bullpen, Texas followed a familiar pattern throughout the series by doing most of its damage in one inning.
A three-run triple by Ian Kinsler and a two-run home run by Adrian Beltre fueled a seven-run sixth inning that allowed the Rangers to turn a 1-0 deficit to a 7-1 laugher by the time the Astros bullpen finally got the elusive third out. Six Rangers reached after two were out and five scored.
The Rangers now have scored five or more runs in an inning a major league-leading 15 times this season.
The win gives the Rangers a 5-1 edge on the Astros in the annual Lone Star Series. The Silver Boot trophy that stays with the series winner was already assured.
The Rangers (40-27) matched their season high of 13 games over .500 and swept a series for the fourth time.
Slump breaker: Kinsler put the Rangers on top with a three-run triple in the sixth to rub out a 1-0 Astros advantage. Texas went on to score seven runs in the inning. Kinsler, who snapped an 0-for-14 on Saturday, lined a pitch from reliever Fernando Rodriguez into the gap in left-center to clear the bases. Two innings before, Kinsler flied out to first with the bases loaded and two out.
Elvis steals a run: Elvis Andrus rounded third and noticed a soft throw from Houston right fielder Brian Bogusevic to second base. An alert Andrus, who broke stride for only a step, hit the gas and scored the fifth of seven Rangers runs in the sixth inning.
Colby with a K: Opening the game by striking out the side was tone-setter, but the two strikeouts Lewis rang up in the second inning were a lot more important. With Astros at first and third and no outs, Lewis used strikeouts of Justin Maxwell (swinging) and Jason Castro (looking) to ease out of a jam without any damage. Lewis finished with 10 strikeouts, his tenth career game of 10 or more strikeouts. That ranks fifth all-time among Rangers pitchers. The Rangers for the first time in their history have put together a streak of four straight games with 10 or more strikeouts.
Another slow start: The Rangers left the bases loaded in the third and fourth innings, continuing a series trend of no runs in the first four innings of any of the three games with Houston.
Walk proves costly: The first walk allowed by the Rangers in 76 batters and a rare two-base wild pitch set up the Astros' first run in the fifth. Lewis issued a one-out walk to Castro, the first Rangers walk since the third inning of Friday’s series opener. Lewis bounced a wild pitch to Matt Downs. By the time catcher Yorvit Torrealba found the ball, Castro had sprinted to third. Downs took advantage of the Rangers’ drawn-in infield by floating a soft single to the rim of the infield grass, an easy out if the infield was at regular depth.
Strikeout-walk ratio: Rangers pitchers in the three-game series with Houston struck out 33 while issuing six walks.
Case for defense: Making only his second start in right field, Brandon Snyder made a sliding catch on Jordan Schafer's liner, saving a potential second run in the Astros fifth. ... Andrus showed off his strong arm, beating by an eyelash the speedy Jose Altuve at first base for the final out in the Astros third. Andrus fielded Altuve’s grounder on his backhand side and was well aware that he had little time to waist. ... Astros shortstop Jed Lowrie went deep in the hole to rob Nelson Cruz of a hit in the second inning. ... Astros center fielder Schafer had has back against the wall when he hauled in Beltre’s deep drive to end the fifth.
Fans keep coming: The Rangers played before their 20th home sellout of the season. The club record is 21 set in 1994, the year Rangers Ballpark opened.