Saturday, April 11, 2015

McHugh, Astros' bats spoil Rangers' home opener

Astros starter Collin McHugh spoiled the Rangers' home opener by holding them to one run over six innings in a 5-1 victory on Friday afternoon at Globe Life Park.
Jed Lowrie gave Houston a 1-0 lead in the first with a home run off Texas starter Derek Holland, who had to leave the game after that one inning because of tightness in the back of his left shoulder. Holland is expected to miss at least two months with a shoulder strain. The Rangers also lost two outfielders, as Shin-Soo Choo left the game in the second inning with back spasms and Ryan Rua went out with a sprained right ankle after five. More >
The bottom three spots in the Astros' lineup -- manned by Jason Castro,Robbie GrossmanColby Rasmus and Jake Marisnick -- were a combined 7-for-10 with four runs scored and four RBI. Rasmus hit a two-run home run in the ninth off of Neftali Feliz while pinch-hitting for Grossman.
"We got a lot of good at-bats out of guys, including one that didn't start the game in Rasmus," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "We had a lot of baserunners on today and we capitalized on some pitches to hit. I thought we scored in different ways, which was nice to see out of our offense. Overall, a really good win."
Rua's absence shows up: Rua, who was batting fifth in the Rangers' lineup, had to leave the game after five innings because of a sprained right ankle. The offense missed him in the sixth after Adrian Beltre doubled and Prince Fielder singled with one out, putting runners at the corners. Texas, trailing 2-0 at the time, sent Delino DeShields to the plate instead of Rua, and the rookie squared to bunt at the first two pitches. With the count 0-2, DeShields swung away and hit a high chopper to short that turned into a force play at second, with Beltre scoring.
McHugh wins eighth in a row: Astros starter Collin McHugh made his debut and allowed one run and five hits over six innings to win his eighth consecutive decision, dating back to last season (he has a 1.84 ERA during that span). It's the longest win streak by an Astros pitcher since Roy Oswalt won nine in a row in 2006-07. McHugh threw 84 pitches and retired the first six batters of the game.
"It was a good atmosphere today, really good crowd," McHugh said. "Yeah, we wanted to get an off to a good start, and so it was important to put up some zeros early, so that was my whole focus coming in, get us off to a good start and really throw up a couple zeros. Give our team a chance to get on the board early, and that's what happened." More >
Bass saves bullpen: Anthony Bass, who was acquired from the Astros in the offseason, pitched well in his role as the Rangers' long reliever. Taking over in the second after Holland's departure, Bass held Houston to one run over five innings, and he left with the score 2-1.
Marisnick ignites offense: Runs have been hard to come by for the Astros through the first four games of the season, which made the contributions of center fielder Marisnick so crucial. Marisnick, hitting in the ninth spot in the order once again, drove in a pair of runs with a fifth-inning double to left field that scored Castro from first base, as well as a seventh-inning single to score Grossman, who had doubled with two outs. He went 3-for-3 with a sacrifice bunt and a stolen base.
"To be able to go out there as an offense as a whole and give our pitchers some run support after the way they've been throwing, that felt pretty good," Marisnick said. More >
"In terms of baseball, I'm able to enjoy the game as a fan. I can remember those August 102-degree days when the game started and we're about eight games out. Trying to market the team. It was a great experience, but the seasons ended up being really long. I'm much more suited to be a fan." -- Former President George W. Bush
"That can be challenging, because you prepare at the beginning of the game like you're going to get three right-handed at-bats tonight and one left-handed at-bat, and it worked out the exact opposite. I took a majority of my reps from the right side preparing for [Holland]. It doesn't always work out that way." -- Switch-hitting shortstop Lowrie, on changing his mindset after Holland left the game after one inning
The Rangers needed a scoreless inning from Roman Mendez after pushing home a run in the sixth against McHugh. They didn't get it. Mendez, taking over for Bass, retired the first two hitters before Grossman doubled and scored on Marisnick's single.
The Rangers lost a challenge in the ninth after Marisnick beat out a slow grounder to second baseman Rougned Odor. It was a nice play by Odor, fielding it on the run and shoveling it with his glove to first baseman Fielder. But the runner was ruled safe and the call was upheld by replay.
Astros: Veteran right-hander Roberto Hernandez makes his Astros debut on Saturday when they face the Rangers at 7:05 p.m. CT in Arlington. Entering his 10th big league season, Hernandez, made 20 starts last year for the Phillies and Dodgers and was 8-11 with a 4.10 ERA. The game will air on ROOT Sports Southwest, and it will be aired on 790 AM (KBME) in Houston.
Rangers: Yovani Gallardo will be on the mound for the Rangers when they face the Astros at 7:05 p.m. CT on Saturday in Arlington. Gallardo allowed four runs in four innings in his first start against Oakland on Monday.

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