The 2012 Houston Astros needed a statement and they may have just gotten one Saturday night. The made a statement with their bats, with the bullpen arms and with a flying tackle on a game-ending rundown.
All those statements added up to a 6-5 victory over the Texas Rangers before a sellout crowd at Minute Maid Park. Houston evened the three-game series heading into the rubber game at 1:05 p.m. Sunday.
“There were a lot of heroes out there today,” Houston manager Brad Mills said. “The ability to come back is huge. In this atmosphere, it’s huge, but to see them continue to battle is something we’ve seen all year long. They continue to come back like that and it’s incredibly gratifying for them to have success.”
The Astros had to climb out of a steep hole right off the bat. In the third inning, Texas broke a scoreless tie with an RBI single from Adrian Beltre. However, the biggest blow came after an error by shortstop Jed Lowrie allowed Michael Young to reach safely.
That brought up Rangers left fielder David Murphy, who hit a ball to deep right center, in front of the Houston bullpen. Astros center fielder Jordan Schafer and right fielder Justin Maxwell converged on the ball, with Maxwell diving for it and Schafer leaping over him to avoid a collision.
Schafer couldn’t avoid injuring his right ankle on the landing, though, and the Astros lost him for the game just as Murphy got an inside-the-park home run to make it 4-0 Rangers.
“Actually, it wasn’t a collision,” Maxwell said. “It was an avoided collision. Schafer maybe just rolled his ankle a little bit when he was trying to avoid me. I had a good bead on the ball and just missed it. We both have good instincts out there. It was just pretty disastrous. I hope he’s all right.”
Houston starter Lucas Harrell kept his composure after the big inning, with a career-best six strikeouts in his 5 2/3 innings of work. Harrell got a no-decision, but gave up five hits and just one earned run over that stretch.
The Astros began to close the gap in the bottom of the third when Chris Snyder led off with a solo home run. Maxwell led off the fourth with a walk, followed by Carlos Lee’s two-run shot into the Crawford Boxes. One inning later, Maxwell plated second baseman Jose Altuve with his own two-run home run to deep left center, giving Houston a 5-4 lead and their first lead of the weekend against the Rangers.
The three home runs Houston hit were the most by an Astros team since Sep. 7, 2011. The Astros only topped three homers in a game five times last season. Rangers starter Derek Holland had only given up three home runs all season, and this was just his second three-homer game in his career.
Houston played add-on in the sixth, when left fielder J.D. Martinez hit a two-out double to right center and pinch-hitter Travis Buck scalded a double to right to make it 6-4. Buck hit the double on a 98-mile per hour fastball from Rangers reliever Alexi Ogando.
“We were down 4-0 in the third, but I was saying in the dugout, ‘There’s a lot of game left,’” Snyder said. “I got the ball rolling, but after, there were two big homers and Bucky’s pinch hit was huge. That pushed the extra run across and that made the difference.”
Five different Houston relievers held the Rangers to one earned run over the final 3 1/3 innings. Closer Brett Myers locked things down before a noisy crowd in the ninth inning, ending the game by finishing off an unusual double play.
With one out and Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus on first, Myers got a ground ball to first from Josh Hamilton. Carlos Lee stepped on the bag and threw over to catch Andrus in a run down. The play developed to the point that Myers had the ball, running at Andrus, who was trying to get to second base safely.
Myers finished the play off by diving at Andrus, tagging him as Andrus shot past the bag for the game’s final out.
“I didn’t think I was going to get (Andrus),” Myers said. “I was watching his eyes. He pump-faked me a little bit towards me. I looked at Jed and just had to go for it, I guess. It was just instinct. I almost didn’t get him. It could have been a bad play. I like those situations, coming in with a great crowd and everyone fired up for this series. You just have to go out there, make pitches and get the outs.”
ASTROS NOTES: The Rangers have won the Silver Boot in each of the past five seasons. … J.D. Martinez continues to slump at the plate in picking up hits, but the left fielder leads the club in walks with 21. That’s more than all but six players off the 2011 Astros team. …Houston improved to 13-9 at home with the victory. The Astros are also 6-4 now with the roof closed at Minute Maid Park. … Houston’s sellout crowd was the first since Opening Day against Colorado. Houston has now drawn 77,388 for the first two Rangers games of this series. The most they’ve drawn in a series this season is 81,621 for the Opening Weekend series with the Rockies. … Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler struck out four times in the game, the first time he’s done such in his seven-year career. … Travis Buck is now 7 for 12 as a pinch-hitter this season with three doubles, one triple and one walk. … X-rays of Schafer’s right ankle were negative after the game. Mills did not rule him out of Sunday’s game, but said it was unlikely he’d play.
Astros 6, Rangers 5
ab r h bi ab r h bi
Kinsler 2b 5 0 0 0 Schafer cf 1 0 0 0
Andrus ss 4 2 2 0 Bogsvc rf 3 0 0 0
Hamltn cf-rf 3 0 0 1 Altuve 2b 4 1 1 0
Beltre 3b 4 1 2 1 Maxwll rf-cf 2 2 1 2
MYong 1b 4 1 1 0 Ca.Lee 1b 4 1 1 2
DvMrp lf 3 1 1 3 Lowrie ss 4 0 1 0
BSnydr ph-lf 1 0 1 0 MDwns 3b 4 0 0 0
N.Cruz rf 4 0 1 0 Myers p 0 0 0 0
MLowe p 0 0 0 0 JDMrtn lf 3 1 1 0
Napoli c 3 0 1 0 CSnydr c 3 1 1 1
DHllnd p 2 0 0 0 Harrell p 2 0 0 0
Morlnd ph 1 0 0 0 Abad p 0 0 0 0
Ogando p 0 0 0 0 T.Buck ph 1 0 1 1
Gentry ph-cf 1 0 0 0 WLopez p 0 0 0 0
Wrght p 0 0 0 0
Lyon p 0 0 0 0
MGnzlz 3b 0 0 0 0
Totals 35 5 9 5 Totals 31 6 7 6
Texas 004 000 100 — 5
Houston 001 221 00x — 6
E—Napoli (3), D.Holland (2), Lowrie (4). DP—Houston 1. LOB—Texas 7, Houston 5. 2B—J.D.Martinez (5), T.Buck (5). 3B—Andrus (2). HR—Dav.Murphy (4), Maxwell (2), Ca.Lee (4), C.Snyder (2). SB—Hamilton (4), Maxwell (1). SF—Hamilton.
IP H R ER BB SO
D.Holland L,3-3 5 5 5 5 2 6
Ogando 2 2 1 1 2 2
M.Lowe 1 0 0 0 0 1
Harrell W,3-3 5 2-3 5 4 1 3 6
Abad H,1 1-3 0 0 0 0 1
W.Lopez H,4 1 2 1 1 0 2
W.Wright 0 1 0 0 0 0
Lyon H,1 1 0 0 0 0 0
Myers S,10-11 1 1 0 0 0 1
W.Lopez pitched to 1 batter in the 8th.
W.Wright pitched to 1 batter in the 8th.
Umpires—Home, Tim McClelland; First, Brian Runge; Second, Ted Barrett; Third, Marvin Hudson.