Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Rangers 4, Astros 0
By Todd Wills
HOUSTON -- It took a while for the Texas Rangers' offense to get going, but Alexi Ogando shut down the Houston Astros long enough in a 4-0 victory over Houston that gave the Rangers a series win to open the season.
Pitching, pitching, pitching: The Rangers shut out the Astros for the final 18 innings of the series. After Yu Darvish came within an out of a perfect game, Ogando jumped back into the Rangers' rotation with 6 1/3 shutout innings. Ogando allowed four hits, had 10 strikeouts and one walk. Four Rangers relievers blanked the Astros the rest of the way.
Strikeout records: OK, maybe it's the Astros' lineup. But give credit where credit is due. Matt Harrison tied a career high with nine strikeouts, and Darvish (14 Ks) and Ogando (10 Ks) set career bests in the opening series. The Rangers had 43 strikeouts in the three-game series, breaking the major league record for the first three games of the season set by the 1966 Cleveland Indians pitching staff, which had 42.
The excitement of Yu Darvish's near-perfect game has Rangers fans brimming with hope. Play-by-play voice Steve Busby talks about Yu's outstanding effort.
Strikeout streak: Ranger pitchers had a strikeout in every inning this season until the combination of Ogando, Robbie Ross and Tanner Scheppers failed to record one in the seventh inning. It was an important frame though as Ross and Scheppers were able to keep the tying run from scoring with the Rangers up 1-0.
Big series for Puma:Lance Berkman had six hits in the series, including a rocket double to the opposite field to score Elvis Andrus from first base and give the Rangers a 2-0 lead in the eighth inning. Berkman reached base in nine of his 12 plate appearances in the series. The former Astros All-Star extended his hitting streak at Minute Maid Park to 15 games. Berkman loves Houston.
Beltre scuffling: Third baseman Adrian Beltre was off to an 0-for-11 start before singling in his final two at-bats. His single in the sixth inning helped the Rangers score their first run. Beltre was the victim of some outstanding defense in this series, including a spectacular play by Astros third baseman Matt Dominguez in the first inning.
Visit boosts Ogando: Manager Ron Washington gave Ogando the type of visit to the mound he usually reserves for Derek Holland. Washington had an intense conversation with Ogando after he fell behind with two balls to strikeout machine Carlos Pena with two runners on and two outs in the third inning. Ogando responded by getting Pena to ground out to second. He retired nine in a row after Washington's pep talk.
Feasting on the pen: The Rangers managed only four runs in the three games against Astros starters, but they crushed Houston relief pitching. The Rangers scored nine runs in 6 1/3 innings against the Houston bullpen.
Up next: The Rangers get a mandatory day off Thursday because of the collective bargaining agreement with the players. It should help get them revved up for their first home series against Josh Hamilton and the Angels.