It's been long trek thus far for Astros fans this season and we're only 40 games in. The 2014 team has been on par with the 2013 version, and that's the last thing anyone wanted. The start this season has felt much like the ending of last season and the spirit of many fans has already been broken.
It's nights like this that make being a baseball fan worthwhile. We pick up the action in the sixth, Scott Feldman struggled through five innings. He worked around ten hits, but the Rangers were able to put four runs on the board. Nick Tepesch made his first start for the Rangers this season, he held the Astros to two hits and struck out eight. Ron Washington took Tepesch out after he walked Dexter Fowler, replacing him with Aaron Poreda. Poreda would fail to record an out - walking Jason Castro and allowing singles to Matt Dominguez, Jesus Guzman, and Chris Carter. The Astros' conga line of hits cut the Ranger lead to 4-2.
Next, with the bases still loaded in the sixth. Bo Porter did his best impression of Tony LaRussa, and swapped his pinch hitter for another pinch hitter. When the Rangers went to Jason Frasor to replace Poreda, Porter pulled L.J. Hoes (who replaced Alex Presley) with Marwin Gonzalez. Gonzalez proceeded to strike out, as did the next batter Jonathan Villar. The moves resulted in the Astros having only one player left on the bench (Carlos Corporan) if needed for extras. Yes, this is all in hindsight but why not let Hoes have chance?
In the seventh, Paul Clemens gave up a double to Adrian Beltre and intentionally walked Prince Fielder. Tony Sipp replaced Clemens. He would proceed to retire the next five batters he faced, striking out three.
George Springer came up in the seventh with Jose Altuve on base. On a 2-0 count, he took a massive sweeping swing at a four-seam fastball and drove it off the wall above the Crawford Boxes. (/Swoon) Springer's dinger ties the game at 4-4.
Sapp and Chad Qualls keep the Rangers in check going into the bottom of the ninth. Dexter Fowler completed his 3-for-3 night and two walks with a single to right field. Jason Castro had one of his best at-bats of the year, working a walk to put Fowler in scoring position. Then in walked the man they call Matty D...
Dominguez rocked a belt-high pitch over the outfielder's head to score Fowler, and win the game.
It was almost a foreign feeling, hell it is a foreign feeling, to have something positive happen for the Astros in a high pressure situation. Looking back on the previous Rangers series in Arlington, the Astros did everything right in those game but couldn't close. I have this image of the Grinch's heart growing three sizes in my head when I think of my fandom of the Astros tonight.
The Astros won their first series with the Rangers since 2008. As I said before it's nights like this that make being a baseball fan worthwhile - beating the Rangers is the icing on the cake.