They came bearing gifts.
The Houston Astros came to town in a generous mood. Saturday, they threw away an easy inning-ending ground ball which gave the Rangers new life and allowed them to run away with what had, before that error, been a close game.
The Astros did everything they could on Sunday to give the game away as well. But the Rangers, ever the gracious host, refused their generosity.
While it was great to see the Rangers fight back from the 4-0 hole that Colby Lewis’s second inning meltdown put them in, it was frustrating to see the Rangers fail to get the crutial hit that would have put the game away after all the chances they got from some pretty poor Astros relief pitching.
The first five innings went pretty much as scripted. The Ranges were facing a quality starting pitcher, so they were not going to score. And Colby Lewis would pitch well except for one costly hiccup.
Look at his inning-by-inning pitch count: 9, 29, 9, 12, 14, 7, 10, 9.
One bad inning undid him. But it was a really bad inning. He gave up four earned runs in the second inning, and was absolutely flawless in the other six-and-a-third innings. But, still, four earned runs in 7.1 innings is a 4.93 ERA.
A 4.93 ERA means a pitcher pitched well enough to keep his team into a game they would more than likely lose.
It’s a case of almost good, but not really.
Dallas Keuchel was good. And the Rangers offense has struggled so far this season when they face a starter who is good or better. They were, however, able to get a clutch two-out two-run Leonys Martin RBI single to get the Rangers within two in the seventh off Keuchel.
Then the gift exchange broke out.
In the eighth inning, with one out and Prince Fielder on first from a single, the Astros bullpen offered the game back to the Rangers. They walked Peguero then hit Mitch Moreland to load the bases. Then they walked Rougned Odor to make it 4-3 and then Carlos Corporan hit a sacrifice fly to tie it. Then they walked Shin-Soo Choo. The Rangers left all three runners on base.
Golden opportunity lost.
All that noise with one single. The Rangers offense refused to get the hit that would bust it open.
In the bottom of the tenth, the Astros were philanthropic once again. After a Peguero single, Odor was hit by a pitch and Choo walked. Bases loaded again. The Rangers couldn’t generate the big hit to capitalize. They gave it a good shot, though. George Springer robbed Martin of a grand slam by going over the wall to catch a ball that was headed out.
Golden opportunity robbed.
After the Astros scored two in the top of the 14th, the Astros graciously gave the Rangers the chance to tie it in the bottom of the inning. With two outs, Fielder singled, Peguero walked and Moreland was hit by a pitch. But all three runners ended up stranded.
The Astros walked seven and hit four batters. And the Rangers left fifteen runners on base, leaving bases loaded in the seventh, eighth, tenth and fourteen inning.
Texas is going for the unenviable role of leading the league in on base percentage, but scoring the fewest runs.
The pitching was good at times, but not good enough. The offense was good at times, but not good enough. Add that up and the Rangers lost 6-4, lost the series, and dropped to 2-4.
If only they could get a hit when they really needed one.