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Chas McCormick strikes, Shawn Dubin provides stability as Astros beat Rangers 5-3

The Astros ensure at least a split in a vital four-game series against the Rangers.

MLB: Houston Astros at Texas Rangers Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

As much as I respect Dusty Baker, the Astros skipper should consider playing Chas McCormick every game until proven otherwise. Here are McCormick’s numbers this season compared to Jake Meyers through Sunday’s game against the Rangers.

  • McCormick, in 175 plate appearances: .258/.339/.458, 123 wRC+
  • Meyers, in 227 plate appearances: .225/.313/.380, 95 wRC+

Yes, McCormick struggles against right-handed pitchers (100 wRC+) for his career compared to left-handers (144 wRC+), but he is the best of the center field options on the roster. It isn’t like he is blocking George Springer or someone of similar stature.

Entering this weekend, I was hoping for the Astros to at least split this four-game series against the Rangers. A tall task on the road, especially with Framber Valdez suddenly unavailable and Hunter Brown throwing only four innings Saturday. But mission accomplished. Shawn Dubin had the unenviable task of facing the third-best offense by wRC+ for as long as possible. The 27-year-old right-hander answered the call, limiting Texas to one run across four innings.

Other than Bryan Abreu allowing a two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning to Nathaniel Lowe, the bullpen did its job. Parker Mushinski, in particular, had one of the game’s tougher assignments in the bottom of the fifth of a 1-1 game, pitching to Marcus Semien, Corey Seager, and Lowe. Although Semien doubled with one out, Mushinski was able to navigate his way out of the inning by inducing a ground ball out from Seager and struck out Lowe looking.

The lineup was relatively quiet for most of the game, with Mauricio Dubón’s one-out double in the sixth inning driving in the team’s first run of the game. Of course, McCormick’s bases-clearing triple in the top of the eighth broke open the game in favor of the Astros. Jose Altuve would add an insurance run of his own in the top of the ninth, which gave Ryan Pressly some breathing room to close this game out.

Monday could prove pivotal for both the Astros and Rangers. A win puts the former within striking distance of the division lead with an upcoming six-game stretch against the Rockies and Mariners at home prior to the All-Star break. This upcoming week of games is the best opportunity for Houston to make up some ground, especially with the likes of Yordan Alvarez, Michael Brantley, and Jose Urquidy all possibly returning sometime shortly after the break.