Defense lets down Lyles… again
The last time Jordan Lyles started against the Rangers things didn’t go well. Last month Lyles surrendered five first inning runs in a loss to the in-state rivals. Jordan pitched better this time around, but the end result was the same. In what was actually a carbon copy of Saturday’s start in Chicago, Lyles sailed through the first four innings before his defense fell apart.
Lyles had recorded nine groundouts through four and 1/3 innings when Ian Kinsler rolled another innocent looking grounder to third. Chris Johnson, as he has been prone to do, uncorked a wild throw that Brett Wallace couldn’t corral and the tide of the game suddenly turned. Lyles got two quick strikes on Elvis Andrus but couldn’t put him away. Lyles hit Andrus with a pitch and then the proverbial wheels came off. The next five Rangers would record base hits, none of which were hit hard, and Lyles would exit the game. The Rangers scored five runs in the inning (3 earned) and that would be more than enough for Yu Darvish.
Justin Maxwell took Darvish deep in the seventh inning to cut the lead to 5-2 but that was all the offense the Astros could muster. Mith Moreland would add an insurance run for the Rangers with a long homer off Rhiner Cruz for a 6-2 final. Darvish would pitch eight innings, striking out eleven to earn his eighth win of the year. Joe Nathan would add a couple of umpire-aided Ks in the ninth. It was the eighth time in the last ten games that Astros batters struck out at least ten times. Six of those times the Astros struck out 13 times or more. Jordan Schafer is one for his last 15 with nine strikeouts. Carlos Lee, the league’s toughest player to strike out, has been missed. Lee is rehabbing a strained hamstring at AA Corpus Christi and could be activated for Sunday’s game.
The loss drops the Astros to 27-37 for the season. Lucas Harrell gets the start on Saturday against Justin Grimm. The Rangers righty will be making his major league debut after being called up from AA Frisco where he has an 8-3 record and a 1.87 ERA in 13 starts this season. Harrell has been good in recent outings and his sinker should be a good fit in the hitter friendly Rangers Ballpark at Arlington. The newly planted grass has been allowed to grow high and helps keep ground balls from getting past infielders. If Harrell can keep the ball on the ground like he usually does, the Astros could be in good shape. If they can keep from striking out a dozen times against the kid, that is.