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Game Recap: Astros fall Just Short in Exciting Comeback Thriller. Rangers 11, Astros 10.

Five solo home runs by Astros hitters not enough to overcome second straight starting pitcher meltdown.

MLB: Houston Astros at Texas Rangers Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

Last night All-Star Gerrit Cole surrendered the most runs in any game in his career. And despite out hitting the Rangers 11-10, the Astros fell to the Rangers 9-4.

Today, this young season’s best Astros starter, Collin McHugh, surrendered the most runs in any game in his career. And despite five home runs, the Astros fell to the Rangers 11-10.

Credit to the Astros for courage and persistence. At one point down in the game by the score 10-1, the Astros battled back until, by the top of the ninth, they were only down 11-8. They proceeded to score two runs on the Rangers’ closer, but with the bases loaded former Ranger Robinson Chirinos struck out, and the Rangers hung on by a lucky toenail.

Just as they did last night, the Rangers got an early start on the Astros’ starter, this time Collin McHugh. Shin-Soo Choo opened today’s game, like last night’s, with a double, followed by an Elvis Andrus hit by pitch. Another major nemesis in this series, the greatly improved Joey Gallo, tripled in both base runners, and himself scored on a Hunter Pence sacrifice fly. Yeah, that Hunter Pence. You’ll hear more about him later.

The Astros managed to get one run back in the third when Robinson Chirinos opened the inning with a double, and later scored on a Michael Brantley sac fly. But in the bottom of the inning the Rangers added four more runs on the strength of an Elvis Andrus RBI double, a two run Hunter Pence homer, which the old man hit 456 feet, followed immediately by a Logan Forsythe dinger, his first of the year.

The Rangers added three more runs in the fourth when Elvin Andrus plated two runs on a bases loaded double just off the glove of center fielder Tony Kemp at the wall. This hit sent McHugh to the showers, but the following run allowed by Framber Valdez on a Joey Gallo sacrifice fly was charged to McHugh, who allowed ten runs, nine earned.

Just for an additional touch of strangeness, the Gallo sac fly was the first in his career.

(editor’s note: Jake Marisnick would have caught that fly ball to center. Just saying)

McHugh faced 21 batters, and only got one strikeout. His ERA started today at 1.96, but now stands at 4.78 for the season. On the other hand McHugh’s counterpart and today’s winning pitcher, Shelby Miller, exceeded expectations. Starting the game with an even 9.00 ERA, he surrendered three earned runs in 5.1 innings and had much better command of his pitches than he had shown earlier in the year.

In the sixth inning, down 10-1, the Astros began chipping away. Alex Bregman led off with a solo smash to center field, and on the next pitch Michael Brantley hit one just slightly to the right of where Bregman’s landed.

These homers chased Miller, but Jeffrey Springs found the Astros bats no more accommodating, as Josh Reddick greeted him with a single, Aledmys Diaz then tripled on a misplay by Delino DeShields in center, and Robinson Chirinos sacrificed Diaz on a fly ball to right field. The Astros had cut the lead to 10-6.

But in what was perhaps the most unfortunate play during a weekend of unfortunate plays, the Rangers added one more all-important run in the bottom of the sixth. As is his wont, Framber Valdez, still in for McHugh, walked the first two batters, but then got a double play, leaving a runner on third with two outs. Joey Gallo then hit an infield pop up so high, that literally no one on the Astros near it could see it. So, for the second game in a row, a pop up with a .010 chance of being a hit, ended up as a decisive event in the game. The fly ball fell to the ground, and the runner on third scored the Rangers’ 11th run.

Even more ironic, the ground ball pitcher Valdez almost never allows infield fly balls. Never. And when he finally did, it dropped for what turned out to be the game winning hit. (Credit to TCB’s Reillocity for that tidbit)

Despite misfortune, no one can accuse the Astros of helpless submission to inevitable defeat. In the eighth they added two more runs on solo homers by Carlos Correa and Josh Reddick against Brett Martin. This brought the score to 11-8, as relievers Will Harris and Ryan Pressly were able to hold the Rangers in the seventh and eighth innings.

In the top of the ninth, the Rangers brought their premier, although struggling of late, closer, Jose Leclerc, to shut down the Astros and take the series. George Springer, who is on pace for a career year, rudely welcomed Leclerc with a lead-off homer to make it a two run game. It was his seventh of the year, which leaves him fourth in the AL, one behind teammate Jose Altuve.

Alex Bregman then walked on a close 3-2 pitch, but the next two batters were retired by Leclerc. But seemingly rattled, Leclerc walked the next three batters, the third of which, pinch hitter Jose Altuve, brought in another run, bringing the score to 11-10.

Leclerc was replaced, and Shawn Kelley was brought in to face former Ranger Robinsion Chirinos, whose OPS this year is .883. Chirinos had a couple of good cuts on some hanging sliders, but couldn’t straighten them out. He eventually went down swinging, leaving the Stros’ miracle comeback one run short.

For the three game series the Rangers outscored the Astros 22-21. Are they importing Rockie Mountain air to Arlington in the Springtime?

Today the Astros begin a three game series against the red-hot Minnesota Twins. Jake Odorizzi faces our own Brad Peacock in a 7:10 CDT game at Minute Maid Park.

TCB will post a question and answer series in which the Twinkies staff and the TCB staff ask and answer each other questions.

Box score and videos HERE.