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Rangers 4, Astros 3: Heartbreaking, predictable Astros loss

Astros rally in ninth, lose in extras.

Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Was that the one? Was that the loss that officially seals the 2016 Houston Astros non-playoff fate? FiveThirtyEight lists the Astros' postseason odds at 8% after tonight's game, and if anything, that seems a bit high. I'm still game for a pleasant playoff surprise, and if we can get through the next two games against the Texas Rangers, the rest of the schedule is incredibly soft, but the fact of the matter is your Astros are now looking up at five teams in the AL Wild Card Race. Oh well. We're not supposed to win the World Series until 2017, anyway.

That first inning was gross, y'all. In fact, I had to take a break from this game after the top of the first to finish watching the last episode of Stranger Things -- which is a lot less depressing programming than Astros vs. Rangers. If you read the play-by-play, it looks like Doug Fister gave up a leadoff walk, three straight singles, and a ground rule double -- the sum of which plated two Rangers runs -- and that's true; but watching this sequence was even more frustrating than it sounds.

First of all, that leadoff walk was to everyone's favorite ex-Astro, Carlos Gomez. That same Gomez who only drew 21 walks in 85 games with the Astros is already halfway towards that total in less than 20 games with the Rangers. And he already has 4 home runs with the Rangers -- one less than his 2016 Astros total. Is there any doubt that Carlos Gomez is going to be the World Series MVP? But I digress.

Carlos Beltran - who is still roundly booed every time he comes to the plate at Minute Maid park some twelve years after spurning the Astros in free agency - had a solid single to right center, but on either side of that event were dinky little hits from Ian Desmond and Adrian Beltre that barely escaped the infield. As with almost every intrastate game this year, the Rangers seemed to manifest all the good luck while the Astros couldn't catch a break (Please refer to Tony Kemp's ground rule double in the seventh for further substantiation of this theory).

Fister was shaky the whole five innings he pitched, also allowing a run in the third, but a three run deficit is hardly insurmountable. And I think this would be a nice time to mention that the bullpen was mostly magnificent. Chris Devenski allowed a hit to Jonathan Lucroy in the sixth but quickly erased him on a double play, Michael Feliz needed only 5 pitches to get out of the seventh inning, Luke Gregerson had a strike out and induced two quick ground outs in a clean eighth, the only blemish on Will Harris' ninth was a leadoff walk, and Ken Giles went six up six down in the tenth and eleventh. If this relief corps could get to the playoffs, they would be incredibly dangerous in a short series.

In the bottom of the ninth, Evan Gattis hit a game tying home run that would have left the yard completely if the roof had been open. It was a glorious blast. I don't really want to talk about the strike-'em-out-throw-'em-out double play that immediately followed that jack, so I'm not going to.

Like I said earlier, the bullpen was mostly great, but James Hoyt gave up a go-ahead homer to Rougned Odor in the twelfth inning. That's what can happen when you have to burn your four best relievers in the sixth through eleventh innings. Jake Diekman, who has pretty much owned the Astros in 2016, owned the Astros tonight, inducing three sad fly outs to end the extra innings game.

The Astros are now an utterly pathetic 3-14 against Texas this season. They will try to make it an utterly pathetic 4-14 tomorrow evening, starting at 7:10 Central.