Rangers strike first in Lone Star series, 7-5 over Astros
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Ian Desmond has already shown he can make the adjustment to being an everyday outfielder. Now he wants to start hitting for the Texas Rangers.
A rested Desmond had his first two-hit game with the Rangers, while Prince Fielder and Mitch Moreland homered in a 7-5 victory over the Houston Astros on Tuesday night in the first meeting of 2016 between the AL West playoff teams from last season.
Desmond had three consecutive days off after not playing Saturday before the Rangers were rained out Sunday and had a scheduled day off Monday. It was a good break for the former All-Star shortstop in Washington who hit .109 with one RBI in his first 12 games for Texas.
“I was able to get my legs under me. I was able to look at some video without having to make an adjustment in the game,” Desmond said. “Obviously in the most humble way I can say it, I’ve got no doubt I’m going to hit. ... I feel like I’ve been, maybe in self-evaluation and being too hard on myself, I feel like I’ve kind of been a little bit of an anchor.”
Fielder had already put Texas ahead to stay with a towering two-run homer before Desmond’s RBI single later in the first inning made it 3-0 off Scott Feldman (0-2). Then in the third, Desmond doubled off the wall in center field — about a foot from being a homer— and scored on Rougned Odor’s single.
“It was nice to go out there and be able to contribute,” Desmond said.
“The rhythm and timing was a lot better, a little more linear with the swing, something he was working on,” manager Jeff Banister said. “He still was aggressive with the swing. ... He let the barrel get through the zone.”
Jose Altuve and George Springer homered for the Astros, going back-to-back in the seventh to get within 6-4.
Moreland lined a homer just over the wall in right field in the seventh for Texas, which last year won 13 of the 19 games between the Lone Star State teams and claimed the division title by two games over Houston.
Derek Holland (2-0), the first left-handed starter Houston faced this season, allowed two runs while throwing 105 pitches in five innings.
Shawn Tolleson, the sixth Texas pitcher, worked the ninth inning for his fourth save in five chances. He gave up a leadoff walk to pinch-hitter Colby Rasmus, who scored on a groundout by Altuve.
Feldman, who had a career-high 17 wins pitching for Texas in 2009, was charged with four runs in five innings. He needed 41 pitches to get out of the first, but threw fewer than Holland overall.
“Well, (the first) put us in a hole, put him in a hole,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “He just couldn’t put away hitters. They had a lot of guys that put swings on the ball with two strikes and found a way to do something. ... Every time we did something, they seemed to answer back.”
Along with Desmond’s near homer, Houston’s Marwin Gonzalez had a ball that just missed going over the 14-foot wall in left field, and Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus had a double off the top of that taller wall.
Andrus trotted to first base, but took off sprinting when the ball ricocheted back onto the field. Third baseman Adrian Beltre gave him a stern look and when Andrus got in the dugout after scoring on a double by Brett Nicholas, Beltre stared him down.
Astros: RHP Lance McCullers, who started the season on the DL with a sore shoulder, threw a bullpen Tuesday and will likely throw another one Friday when the team gets back to Houston. ... C Max Stassi is in a regular routine of batting practice and catching drills as part of his rehab after surgery to remove a bone from his left wrist. He is close to getting in some extended spring training games.
Rangers: Josh Hamilton will go back to the Rangers’ spring training complex in Arizona when the team leaves for a weekend series in Chicago. Hamilton, recovering from offseason knee surgery, hopes to start a rehab assignment at Double-A Frisco by April 30.
Astros: Doug Fister (1-1) starts for the fourth time at Texas, where he is 0-2 with an 11.85 ERA — starting in 2009 for Seattle, then 2012 and 2013 for Detroit. The right-hander has allowed 19 runs (18 earned) and five homers in 13 2/3 innings there.
Rangers: LHP Cole Hamels (2-0) pitches on extra rest. Hamels had been scheduled to pitch Tuesday night, but was pushed back a day when the Rangers kept Holland in line after they were rained out Sunday before a scheduled day off Monday.