Well, that didn’t go as planned. The Astros traveled to Arlington tonight hoping to end a 9-game losing streak against a slumping Rangers team that hadn’t won a home game all month. With a golden opportunity to spoil their rival’s playoff bid the Astros, instead, sleepwalked through nine innings en route to a 12-0 blowout defeat.
Sadly, the game wasn’t even as close as the score would suggest. This one was pretty much over in the first inning. There is absolutely nothing positive to report as the Astros played like a team that has already folded up the tent and called it a season. Jose Altuve‘s first inning baserunning blunder (#recurring theme) set the stage for an evening that was filled with boneheaded plays and lackluster efforts.
Starting pitcher Jordan Lyles was unable to throw a breaking pitch anywhere near the strike zone. When he finally did, it was right down the middle and Leonys Martin took advantage by lacing a bases clearing double to the wall. It would be the last pitch Lyles would throw, as Martin was thrown out at third base to end the third inning with the Rangers leading 7-0.
Astros batters showed no discipline at the plate all evening, routinely swinging at the first pitch. That made it easy for Rangers starter Derek Holland to go the distance and get the shutout on only 113 pitches.
Alex Rios hit for the cycle in his first four at-bats. (Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports)
On defense, Matt Dominguez and Jonathan Villar were each charged with an error. Dominguez threw a ball into the dugout and Villar failed to corral what appeared to be a routine double-play grounder. Villar’s struggles at the plate continued as well.
Closer Josh Fields came in to pitch the eighth inning and issued a 4-pitch walk to the first batter he faced. Along with the poor play, the Astros had some bad luck too. When they did manage to make solid contact the Rangers made outstanding defensive plays. On the other hand, Texas benefited from a few seeing-eye grounders that found their way into the outfield. Alex Rios hit for the cycle, including a slow roller to third base for a single and a homerun that barely cleared the wall.
Although the wins have been few and far between this season, the Astros have always given their best effort. That simply wasn’t the case tonight. And that is disappointing, especially considering the circumstances. Look for Bo Porter to shake up the lineup for tomorrow night’s game and hope that Yu Darvish doesn’t add insult to injury by throwing another shutout. If tomorrow’s effort is on par with what the Astros delivered tonight, Darvish will have an easy time of it.