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Game Recap: Astros Implode. Texas Rangers Embarrass Houston 11-2.

Weak bats, another bullpen breakdown lead to lopsided loss.

MLB: Texas Rangers at Houston Astros
Chris Devenski gave up 5 runs without getting an out.
John Glaser-USA TODAY Sports

Before this game the Houston Astros occupied first place in the American league West, 25 games ahead of the last place Texas Rangers. The Astros are still in first place, but the Rangers got one game closer in their quest to regain divisional supremacy.

As Buddha said, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

The lowly Rangers came to Houston on an eight game losing streak. Their pitching staff had an 8.68 ERA in its last seven games, and in the four game sweep by the A’s, had surrendered 53 hits and 41 runs.

Tonight, the second best offense in MLB, with a wRC+ of 112, could only manage two runs and six hits against the third worst pitching staff in baseball. And by far the best staff in baseball, the only team with a sub 3 ERA, surrendered 11 runs and 15 hits to the 19th rated offense.

Sometimes even a laughingstock team can win a laugher.

Tonight’s winning pitcher for the Rangers, starter Yovani Gallardo, came into this game with a 7.18 ERA for the season and a K/9 rate of 5.20. He held the Astros scoreless for 5.1 innings, and struck out 5. However, as long as the Astros starter, Dallas Keuchel pitched, this game seemed winnable, and although it was not his best performance, he kept the Astros close, allowing 3 runs in five innings.

A real pest tonight for the Astros was Rangers rookie Isaiah Kiner-Falefa, who was 4-5 with a home run.

What is perhaps most concerning about this loss is the continued problems with key components of the bullpen. Brad Peacock replaced Keuchel in the sixth and surrendered two runs on two hits. Since July 1st Peacock has a 6.23 ERA and an 8.24 FIP.

Even more disturbing is the precipitous and inexplicable descent of Chris Devenski. In his last game he surrendered, consecutively, a walk, a home run, a single, and a home run. Tonight his first pitch was a home run, followed by three singles and a walk. In his last two outings he has faced nine batters and retired none of them, allowing eight earned runs. Before this streak he had a 2.33 ERA. After these last two outings without recording an out it is 4.19.

At least he hasn’t punched himself in the face like the Astros’ former closer did.

Cionel Perez pitched one inning, surrendering a solo home run. His ERA since his call up from AA is 5.40.

Point is, what seemed like a team strength a month ago, a deep bullpen, for now at least appears to be a vulnerability. Perhaps that is the reason the Astros just acquired Ryan Pressly from the Twins for two prospects.

The Astros were without Jose Altuve tonight, and appear to deeply miss the presence of Carlos Correa, who has been on the DL for several weeks with back issues. Since July 9th the Astros’ record is 6-7, and the team wRC+ in the last 14 days in 93, 19th in MLB.

One bright spot tonight was the seeming emergence of Evan Gattis from his July slump. He had a seventh inning home run and singled in the ninth on a line drive off the left field wall. He eventually scored the Astros only other run after a sac fly by new Astro Martin Maldonado.

And in defense of the Astros’ anemic offense, in his previous start Gallardo held the Cleveland Indians scoreless as well.

Well, the baseball season is 162 games, and there’s always tomorrow blah, blah.

Miracle of miracles, the Oakland A’s and the Seattle Mariners both lost tonight, so the Astros maintain their five game lead in the West. The Mariners even lost an extra inning game to the Angels on a Cole Calhoun walk off solo home run. The Astros bullpen isn’t the only one to screw up.

Oh yeah, speaking of tomorrow, the best stopper ever, Justin Verlander (10-5, 2.19 ERA) goes against the guy the Rangers have brought in to replace the traded Cole Hamels; Ariel Jurado (0-1, 7,71 ERA). He has only pitched 4.2 innings in the major leagues. Game time 6:10 CDT.

Box score and videos here.