The Rangers were 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position last night.
Fortunately the Astros were 1-for-12.
Fortunately, too, the one hit the Rangers did get, from Rougned Odor, went into the second deck and scored all the runs the Rangers could get or would need.
And, even more fortunately, the Astros ran themselves into outs in the first, second and third innings.
With three walks and three hit batters and five hits against him, Cole Hamels wasn’t his sharpest but he was certainly his craftiest. What makes Hamels such a great pitcher is he doesn’t get rattled in traffic. This year, opposing teams are hitting .143 when they have runners in scoring position against Hamels. He just does what he does whether you are on base or not. About the only way you are scoring off Hamels is to hit it out of the park.
Hamels executed his pitches when he had to, so did Dyson, Diekman and Tolleson out of the pen.
But you can talk about arms out of the rotation and arms out of the bullpens all you want, the key to last night’s 2-1 victory over the Astros, however, were the arms out of the outfield.
Mazara’s perfect throw home with bases loaded after he just caught a fly ball for the first out of the second inning helped trigger a brain freeze in the Astros base runners. It allowed the Rangers to steal a hugely important second out and get Texas out of a really tough jam. The guy has an arm.
And Ian Desmond’s throw from left to nail Jose Altuve trying to stretch a single into a double shut down a potential rally before it even had the chance to form. He isn’t hitting and his defense is still a work in progress, but the guy has an arm.
Outfielders with arms change innings dramatically because they change a teams mindset on running the bases and challenging runners. That extra base they don’t take puts them ninety-feet further from scoring a run.
All in all, it was a somewhat frustrating game for both offenses that was, beneath the surface, a very good game. That the Rangers could win a game like that bodes well for them winning a lot of different ways.
Dallas Keuchel (2-1, 2.18) vs. A. J. Griffin (1-0, 3.27)
Game time: 7:05 pm
How the Rangers hit against Keuchel.
How the Astros hit against Griffin.