For the Texas Rangers and all their allies, the Houston Astros had a loud message today:
NOT SO FAST.
Sure, the Rangers are young, talented, and healthy. To all appearances, the Astros appear World Series hung over, old, and severely wounded. But after the Rangers overcame an eight-run deficit, it was the Astros who had the heart, determination, and resiliency to come from behind in the ninth inning to win the game and take this crucial four-game series in Arlington.
And that despite missing the services of their two All-Star players due to injury
The Astros scored first, crushing Rangers starter Martin Perez for six runs in the second inning, all by home run: solo shots by Chas McCormick and Yainer Diaz, and a grand slam by Kyle Tucker.
But the Rangers got two runs back in the fourth on a Leody Taveras home run.
However, the Astros gave their starter, Cristian Javier an eight-run lead in the fourth on an Alex Bregman RBI single and a three-run Jose Abreu 452-foot home run, his career 250th.
Career home run No. 250 was CRUSHED. pic.twitter.com/KFJxXJCCot— Houston Astros (@astros) July 3, 2023
But the Cristian Javier meltdown(s) continued. In the bottom of the fourth, he gave up a three-run homer to Travis Jankowski, and in the fifth, the Rangers made the score 10-9 with a Corey Seager double, an Adolis Garcia RBI single, a Josh Jung single, which finally chased Javier.
Phil Maton walked the next batter and surrendered a two-run single to Jankowski. A Taveras fielder’s choice completed the scoring for the Rangers in the fifth.
The Astros need Cristian Javier to be better. (That’s the very polite way to say it.)
Today the Astros handed him leads of 6-0 and 10-2, and by the time he left with one out in the fifth inning, the Rangers had launched on Javier with eight runs. In his last three starts, Javier has gone only 10.2 innings and allowed 18 earned runs, 21 hits, and four homers.
The line on Javier today was as follows: 4.1 IP, eight earned runs, nine hits, two home runs, and four Ks.
Ryne Stanek held the Rangers in the sixth inning, but the Rangers tied the score in the seventh with a Garcia solo homer off Hector Neris.
The Rangers took the lead in the eighth inning thanks to a brutal defensive error by Alex Bregman. With one out and Leodys Taveras on second, Bregman fielded a ground ball and had Taveras stuck in a rundown. But he threw the ball into right field, allowing Taveras to reach third base, who scored on a Corey Seager sac fly. It was the second unearned run allowed by the Astros in the game, the other on an error by Corey Julks in the fifth credited to Phil Maton.
But those who thought the Astros would go down silently to the slaughter were wrong. In the ninth, Tucker singled, scored on a Jose Abreu double off the wall in left, and Abreu scored on a go-ahead double by yesterday’s hero, the Chasmanian Devil, McCormick
Ryan Pressly came in for the save, and much to his relief, the Astros' defense suddenly found its footing. Pressly got Garcia to ground out to shortstop Mauricio Dubon, the Master of all Trades, who made a great play for out one. The Chas Man got out two with a spectacular flying catch in center field.
Pressly got out three on his own, striking out Jonah Heim.
All three outs in the ninth were against players named to the AL All-Star team.
The Rangers are definitely dangerous, but the Astros are more dangerous than danger, and as we say in Houston, never underestimate the heart of a champion.
Coming soon to an Astros stadium near you, Yordan Alvarez, ready to help the Stros close the remaining three-game distance between themselves and the Rangers.
Kudos to Kyle Tucker, 4-4 with a grand slam, resurgent Jose Abreu, 2-5 with four RBI and one of the longest homers of his career, and Chas Man, 2-5 with two RBI, including the go-ahead and stellar defense.