The Astros sent their best pitcher to the Minute Maid Park mound on Sunday looking to complete a 3-game sweep of the Texas Rangers. Dallas Keuchel looked terrific through the first three innings. But the next three innings would be a different story.
The Astros lefty retired nine of the first ten Rangers that stepped into the batter’s box — six on groundouts and two on strikeouts. During that time, only one ball left the infield. Alex Rios popped out to Robbie Grossman in right to end the first. Adam Rosales, who drew a 2-out walk in the second, was the Rangers’ lone base-runner in the first three innings.
An RBI grounder by Chris Carter in the first and a run-scoring single by Jason Castro in the third staked the Astros and Keuchel to an early lead. But just when it was starting to look like he was in complete control, Keuchel started to leave some pitches up in the strike zone. Elvis Andrus led off the fourth with a solid single and Alex Rios drove him in with a shot off the left-centerfield wall. Rios would score later in the inning on a single of the bat of Adam Rosales, tying the game.
The trouble would continue for Keuchel in the fifth. A double by Robinson Chirinos and a single by Dan Robertson set the stage for a wild pitch that would give Texas the lead. The Rangers added an insurance run with a sacrifice fly off the bat of Andrus. A long homerun by Adrian Beltre to lead off the sixth made it 5-2 Texas. The Rangers then loaded the bases on an error and a couple of walks before Keuchel got a double-play grounder to end the inning.
Jose Veras came on in the seventh for Houston and served up a leadoff homer to Shin-Soo Choo. The Astros’ offense would go quietly the rest of the way, making starting pitcher Nick Martinez victorious for only the second time all year. Keuchel dropped to 10-8 on the season and saw his ERA creep up above the 3.00 mark.