Rangers Beat Astros 4-1, Gaining the Edge in the Battle for the Silver Boot.

May 18, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Texas Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre (29) slides into second with a double against the Houston Astros in the fifth inning at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-US PRESSWIRE

Not much to tell in this one--the Rangers beat the Astros by a score of four runs to one. Wandy Rodriguez threw six strong innings, giving up three earned runs on mostly bloop hits and a couple strong doubles. The only interesting offense in the game felt like it came on a howitzer home run from Adrian Beltre against Fernando Rodriguez.

For the home team, Jose Altuve worked two more walks and Jason Castro and Chris Johnson had two great battles that ended unfortunately. Other than that, the Astros bats were relatively quiet; the only run came on a single that drove in Altuve.

The most memorable moments in this game came on harrowing near-beanings of Ian Kinsler by Rhiner Cruz. Maybe some day, Astros and Rangers fans will care about the Lone Star series, but this game did little to stir excitement.

My thoughts below...

Pregame

2013 is finally here, Astros fans! The Astros embark upon their new adventure in the AL West, where they will face the Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Orange County California Angels of Anaheim, Oakland A's, and Seattle Mariners for the right to earn their first AL Pennant. Yessir, it is a new era with new traditions to be made, new rivals to despise, and new reasons to mock the Designated Hitter.

The 2013 baseball season starts on May 16, 2012 as the Astros clash with the Texas Rangers in Minute Maid park--the first game of a new rivalry that will bring relevance to the contest for the Silver Boot. This momentous occasion is marked by an appearance by Tom Verducci on the pregame show. Obviously, this game has national relevance in the 2013 pennant race. I shall watch, and comment below.

Inning the First:

  • I'm eating fish. Brain food. My write-up is gonna be epic tonight.
  • Wandy Rodriguez' middle name is Fulton. I didn't know that.
  • Pitching: Josh Hamilton just hit into a ground out. I guess he's not nearly as good as people claim.
  • Batting: Nice opposite-field single by Schafer.
  • Baserunning: Wow, awesome save by Adrian Beltre on Schafer's steal of 3rd. That was almost into left field on an awful throw by Mike Napoli.
  • Batting: Bad move for Carlos Lee to swing on that 3-0 pitch to end the inning with Schafer stranded on 3rd. Why not give Neftali Feliz two chances to walk you or give you a pitch to crush?

Inning the Two'th:

  • Pitching: Good strikeout on Nelson Cruz with a fastball on the outside corner after giving up a lucky single to Michael Young on a vicious curveball.
  • Look, I like Nolan Ryan as an ex-Astro as much as the next guy, but I really am not enthused by the idea of the Rangers' owner throwing out the first pitch of an Astros game in Houston. Honor him, but at a distance. He chose Dallas.
  • Pitching: I hate intentional walks. There doesn't seem to be a reason for it in this case. Two outs, and Mills decides to walk Craig Gantry (???) to face Neftali Feliz. Why wouldn't you pitch to Gantry and try to get him out so you can lead off next inning against Feliz? That move doesn't smell right, even after Rodriguez struck out Feliz.
  • Batting: Chris Johnson listened to what I told Carlos. Don't swing on a 3-0. Give the pitcher a chance to give you a freebie. And on the 3-1 CJ gets the Hit By Pitch. See? Good things come to those who wait. I guess.
  • Batting: Excellent 8-pitch walk for Jason Castro. That's good to see for a guy who's really been struggling. Bases loaded with one out!
  • Batting: LOL. If the bases weren't loaded, Wandy's swing would have been hilarious. Good grief, he's bad at the plate. Three swings in a row. Why haven't the coaches told Wandy to stand like a post? Feliz can't get the plate to save his life right now. Check this image out (Wandy KO'd). Napoli leaped two feet off the ground to catch this one:


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  • And this to Jordan Schafer, who ended up popping out: Stop swinging, Astros!!!

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Inning Three:

  • Pitching: Wow, that Ian Kinsler double was just almost a home run. Wandy dodged a bullet with that one. Right below the Left Center yellow line.
  • Pitching: Kinsler scores on a sac fly by Adrian Beltre. Score Astros 0 Rangers 1. They shouldn't have walked Gantry last inning, because Feliz might have been leading off instead of Kinsler.
  • Stolen Base by Josh Hamilton. I've heard a couple people say that this guy might be good some day. I wonder...
  • Pitching: Hmm. A rare walk issued by Wandy.
  • Pitching: Hamilton scores on a liner up the middle. Score Astros 0 Rangers 2.
  • Defense: Great sliding catch by Brian Bogusevic to end the inning and limit the damage.
  • Hitting: A five-pitch walk to Jose Altuve. You know how I like Altuve walking. Makes me feel good.
  • Hitting: J.D. Martinez has no business hitting 3rd right now. He needs to stay in the majors, but he's hitting like an 8-hole hitter right now. Swinging at awful pitches nowhere near the zone in this At Bat.
  • Feliz needs to buy Napoli a steak. Napoli's saved at least four potential wild pitches so far.
  • Hitting: Jed Lowrie hits Altuve in on a broken bat single up the middle. Score Astros 1 Rangers 2. Feliz just has no clue where his pitches are going.

Fourth Inning

  • Defense: Nice 1-6 play to take care of the lead runner on a failed sacrifice bunt by Feliz. This just isn't Feliz' day.
  • Defense/Pitching: Great pitching and great double play to send the Rangers back to the dugout.
  • I'd really like CJ to have a good game to validate my article from earlier today.
  • Hitting: 4 pitch walk to Wandy. That's not something I think I've seen before--ever.
  • I'm so tempted to switch over to Verlander's no-hitter. He's in the 9th with one out. But I have a job to do, and nothing shall distract me. I hope David and Tim double my pay tonight.
  • No-hitter just ruined. See? Good thing my sense of duty kept me on Fox Sports Houston.

Fifth Inning

  • Score Astros 1 Rangers 3 on back to back doubles by Beltre and Michael Young.
  • If you aren't watching Sherlock on PBS, you're missing the best show on television right now. Catch the first three episodes on Netflix, then watch this season. You'll thank me later, especially if you know anything about the original Sherlock Holmes stories.
  • Hitting: Another Altuve walk. This has been a good day. Oop, and there's a walk to Lowrie as well. And Feliz is out of the game. That's too bad for the Astros.

Inning Seis:

  • Pitching: Despite the score, Wandy is looking strong today. A few bloop hits on curveballs that were golfed at, but aside from that he's been in control. And there's another golf swing by Kingsler, but he's gunned down at second by five steps.
  • Oliver doesn't seem to be real enthused by baseball.

2012-05-18_21-11-25_117_medium

  • Hitting: There's a hit by CJ! Another positive outcome!
  • Hitting: Jason Castro is having a really horrible year at the plate. Hit into a double play, erasing CJ's positive outcome.
  • Hitting: Wandy is out of the game, with Matt Downs pitch-hitting. Inning over.

Lucky Seven

  • Pitching: Fernando Rodriguez strikes out Josh Hamilton. Nicely done.
  • Pitching: Beltre crushes a home run to deep Left Center. Not nicely done. Score Astros 1 Rangers 4.
  • Speaking of Sherlock, casting Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins and Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug was sheer genius. Could not have chosen better actors for the roles.

Inning Eight

  • Pitching: Great 1-2-3 frame by F-Rod.
  • Hitting: Great 1-2-3 frame by Koji Uehara.

The Last Gasp

  • Pitching: Nice one batter by Fernando Abad. And now an annoying end-of-game pitching change.
  • Pitching: Look, Rhiner Cruz. You should not be allowed to wear your hat sideways while pitching. You look completely ridiculous.
  • Defense: Great catch by J.D. Martinez to run down a line drive to the corner after Rhiner almost beaned Kinsler twice.
  • Pitching: And Cruz actually does hit Elvis Andrus. C'mon, dude.
  • Pitching: Followed up by a very nice strikeout of Hamilton built on two changeups in the zone. This has been the most interesting inning in two hours.
  • Hitting: Last chance for the Astros against closer Joe Nathan. I forgot Nathan pitched for the Rnngers. That guy used to be really really good. Like Mariano Rivera good. I wonder if he's still got it.
  • Hitting: Great ten pitch AB by CJ, ended by a long drive to the Right Field corner. Good catch by Cruz.
  • Hitting: Strikeout on Travis Buck to end the game.
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