On Opening Day in Arlington, George Springer homered the first two times he faced Cole Hamels and the Astros sailed behind Justin Verlander for the win. On Friday night in Houston, Springer left early after being hit in the elbow with a pitch and the Rangers prevailed, 1-0, on a one-hitter as the sole run off Verlander scored on a sacrifice fly.
Verlander: ERA drops to 1.21 in loss
(c) Steve Gonzales/Houston Chronicle
We can put away those "offense is cured" stories for awhile longer.
The Astros' only hit was a clean single in the fifth by Evan Gattis, their sub-.200-hitting "Designated Hitter". The Rangers were generous enough to issue five walks and an error so Houston actually had more at bats with a runner in scoring position than the Arlington boys had, 7-5. The two teams were a combined 0-for-12 in that stat.
Through six innings, neither team had a run. Verlander had allowed two hits. Hamels, just the aforementioned one. It was a good night to chase your toddler around the concession areas and know you weren't missing much.
Nomar Mazara cracked a double to right for just the third hit by the Rangers. Adrian Beltre walked on four pitches and Joey Gallo walked on seven. That filled the bases with none out and ended Verlander's night.
Chris Devenski entered into the impossible situation and gave up a two-strike fly to left by Jurickson Profar. Mazara tagged up and scored easily. Devenski then struck out Rougned Odor and Robinson Chirinos to quell the threat.
Hamels was done too but a trio of relievers tossed three no-hit innings with Keone Kela picking up his eighth save. The Astros used three relievers after Devenski with Tony Sipp getting Collin McHugh out of a jam in the eighth.
Springer is listed as day-to-day for the rest of the weekend series. At last look, the Angels led Minnesota and, if that holds up, Houston will fall to second place in the AL West.
The 24-16 Astros send a rested Charlie Morton (4-0) to the mound Saturday evening in a 6:10 pm Central encounter against former Astro Doug Fister (1-3). The Astros are a mere .500 team (10-10) at home, but a much stronger 14-6 club away from it.
- Bob Hulsey