The Dr. Jekyl version of Framber Valdez showed up tonight, and it behooves the Astros to take advantage of the appearance of good Framber when he happens to emerge.
Valdez only allowed one unearned run in six innings, leaving the game with a 2-1 lead. But the Astros failed to score another run, and his relief gave the Rangers an easy 6-2 win. If the Astros can’t win for good Framber, how do they expect to win when Mr. Hyde shows up?
The Astros started the scoring off starter Dane Dunning with a lead-off solo home run by Yordan Alvarez in the second inning. However, the Astros wasted a golden opportunity later in the inning as Kyle Tucker and Yuli Gurriel ended up getting stranded on second and third base with no outs.
The Rangers tied the score in the bottom of the second with an unearned run. After Jeremy Pena bobbled an easy grounder for the second night in a row Nick Solak ended up scoring after a Nathaniel Lowe double and a Charlie Culberson run-scoring ground out.
The Astros conjured some two-out magic with a run in the sixth. It started with a two-out single by Yuli Gurriel who then stole second base. Kyle Tucker then hit a pop up to shallow left which seemed like such a wasted at-bat that Tucker threw his bat on the ground in disgust. However, left fielder Solak could not get his glove around the ball that hung in the air 6.4 seconds. Gurriel scored and Tucker got credit for an RBI single on a ball with a Statcast 95% catch probability.
Valdez did a masterful job of preserving his lead in the sixth after allowing the first two batters to single. But he followed with two strikeouts and a patented Framber groundout to escape the jam. His closing line was six innings pitched, one unearned run, four hits, two walks and four clutch strikeouts.
Unfortunately, the Astros bullpen couldn’t hold Valdez’s lead in the seventh. Phil Maton gave up a run on three singles and was charged with another after Ryne Stanek gave up an RBI single to Corey Seager. But with one out and runners on the corners, Stanek induced a popup to first baseman Yuli Gurriel and then a flyout to center to keep the Rangers within one run.
However, in the eighth inning, the Rangers blew the game open. Paker Mushinski allowed two singles and after two outs was replaced by Ronel Blanco. After walking his first batter Blanco allowed a three-run double to Adolis Garcia, ensuring the Rangers’ victory in this, the first game of a four-game series in Arlington.
Tomorrow the Astros try to pull out a win with Jake Odorizzi on the mound. His opponent will be Taylor Hearn. Game time 7:05.