As good as he's been, fans sometimes forget that Lance McCullers, Jr. is just 21 years old and tossing more innings than he's had to do before. Monday night in the Broilpark at Arlington was a reminder that he's still human. Spotted a 2-0 lead in the first, McCullers was knocked around for six runs after one-third of an inning in the 98-degree heat and was pulled in a 12-9 defeat to the Rangers.
Early hook for McCullers
(c) Associated Press
The loss drew Houston back to three games in front of the Angels in the AL West standings.
After Josh Fields got the next five outs, Mike Fiers made his Astros debut a less-than-memorable one. Scheduled to start Tuesday's contest, Fiers was brought in a day early and surrendered six runs over five innings.
While certainly not the only cog in the slugfest, Rangers' third sacker Adrian Beltre had the most noteworthy evening. Beltre amassed four hits in the first five innings and became just the fourth player in big league history to achieve the cycle three times in his career. The last to do it was the immortal Babe Herman in 1933.
Arlington built an 11-3 lead after three innings but, to their credit, the Astros kept chipping away at Colby Lewis to get within striking distance. Carlos Correa (his 13th) and Luis Valbuena (his 20th) went deep against Lewis before Jason Castro slugged a grand slam in the fourth to make the score 11-7. Colby Rasmus added a two-run double in the seventh.
It was too tall an order despite every member of the Houston lineup getting at least one hit. Castro, Valbuena, Carlos Gomez and Jed Lowrie enjoyed multi-hit games, as did six Rangers.
After the game, McCullers was optioned to AAA Fresno where he should get some rest as management does not want to burden the rookie's arm too greatly. Since Fiers worked five innings, Dan Straily (0-0) is getting the call from Fresno to pitch Tuesday's 7:05 Central duel at the Broilpark. He'll face Houston nemesis Yovani Gallardo who is 7-9 and 0-3 in his last six starts but normally saves his best efforts for the Astros.
Wednesday's starter will either be former Ranger Scott Feldman or AL Pitcher of the Month Scott Kazmir. For those who care about the Silly Boot, the Rangers now own a 6-4 lead on the season series.
- Bob Hulsey