Astros fall in Lone Star State series opener, 7-5 at Rangers
Apr. 20, 2016
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Astros starter Scott Feldman needed 41 pitches to get out of the first inning, and Houston was behind for good against the Texas Rangers.
Prince Fielder hit a towering two-run homer and Ian Desmond had an RBI single in the first to get the Rangers started in a 7-5 victory Tuesday night in the first meeting of 2016 between the AL West's two playoff teams from last season.
"Well, that 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."
Jose Altuve and George Springer homered for the Astros, going back-to-back in the seventh to get within 6-4.
But Mitch Moreland lined a homer just over the wall in right in the bottom of the inning 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.
The Astros are off to a 5-9 start and still haven't won consecutive games, even though they were coming off their first series victory by taking two of three from Detroit over the weekend.
"Obviously you want to start hot, but it's early. We're going to be all right, we're going to keep grinding," Jake Marisnick said.
Houston has lost its last eight games in Arlington.
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 when pitching for Texas in 2009, was charged with four runs in five innings.
"Settled down a little bit, but next time I've got to come out better in the first," Feldman said. "I wasn't hitting my spots. Just felt like command was an issue a little bit, for the whole game really."
Springer's homer was to straightaway center and just beyond the glove of a leaping Delino DeShields, who was in the Houston organization before the Rangers got him in the draft of unprotected players on the final day of baseball's winter meetings in December 2014.
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.
Astros: RHP Lance McCullers, who started the season on the disabled list 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.
Hinch was named this week to the Pac-12 Conference All-Century baseball team as one of three catchers. He wanted to make sure Astros catcher Jason Castro knew about the award.
"He played in the same conference, in the same century," Hinch said.
Both caught at Stanford.
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.