ARLINGTON – Three takeaways from Houston’s 14-1 dismantling of the Rangers on Tuesday temporarily knocked the Rangers out of the playoff picture altogether. The Blue Jays’ 7-1 victory over Oakland means the Rangers are half a game behind them for their last wild card.
Remember that series in Houston at the end of July where the Rangers bombed the Astros at the end of the series and the benches cleared after an exchange of blows and chirping? Yes, looks like the Astros did. Their bats have shown this streak in a big way. Houston hit nine homers over seven runs from the sixth inning on Monday through the third inning on Tuesday.
Five of these – five! – He got off the racket of Jose Altuve, who was involved in two of his last three hits on Monday, then came back to start Tuesday’s game and came back again in games two and three. She gave him five homers in a span of six at-bats. His third homer on Tuesday came after Martin Maldonado hit right in front of him. It was the third time the Astros’ No. 9-1 hitters had turned back this series.
When Maldonado hit his second homer of the game in the seventh and Yordan Alvarez followed up with three batters later, he gave the Astros 11 batters over the two games. It’s the most the Rangers have ever allowed in two games.
In his first appearance in nearly 50 days – and without the benefit of a rehab assignment – Nathan Iovaldi looked like a man who hadn’t stepped in 50 days. He gave up a homer to Altuve to start the game after falling behind 3-1, threw 27 pitches in the first inning and allowed another homer to Altuve as well for a count of 3-1 in the second to end his night.
Perhaps most troubling of all, the extended time in IL did not appear to have increased his speed. He averaged 93.9 mph with his fastball – although MLB’s Statcast seems to have some trouble keeping track of the pitch. He’s down from his season average of 95.4 mph, but about 0.5 mph below where he was in a handful of starts before going to IL.
The Rangers gave up early. Corey Seager struck out after his second batter in the bottom of the third. Jonah Hime was knocked out two rounds later. The Rangers knew they had been beaten.
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