Rangers try to shake 'unlucky' loss to Astros
Under normal circumstances, Jake Marisnick serves as the primary defensive replacement in the outfield for the Astros, always entering to man center field when Houston seeks to protect a tenuous lead in the latter stages.
However, the Astros feature solid depth defensively in their outfield, and their wealth of talent was on display in the ninth inning Thursday as Josh Reddick made a lead-preserving grab when he reached over the wall in right field and brought back what would have been a three-run home run for Texas Rangers designated hitter (and, incidentally, former Astros right fielder) Hunter Pence.
With Houston facing a left-handed Texas starter Mike Minor, left-handed-hitting left fielder Michael Brantley had the night off. At least until Brantley, who will return to the starting lineup Friday when the Astros host Texas in the second game of their four-game series at Minute Maid Park, earned a bases-loaded walk as a pinch hitter in the eighth.
Brantley stayed in the game as the left fielder in the ninth, pushing Reddick to right, where his dazzling play saved the Astros' 4-2 victory.
Reddick excels defensively in right field but has found his footing playing left when duty calls.
"The thing about this park is left field is probably the hardest play to play out of anything," Reddick said. "It was actually a nice easy upgrade going back to right where I'm more comfortable. I think it's a combination of playing right field for so many years and just making sure I get my work done and making sure I go about it the right way. I think that prepared me in the best way possible to make that play."
Right-hander Justin Verlander (5-1, 2.86 ERA) will make his third start of the season against the Rangers on Friday at Minute Maid Park. He is 1-0 with a 4.09 ERA against Texas this season, with his two previous starts coming in Arlington, and 14-8 with a 2.90 ERA over 27 career starts against the Rangers.
Verlander allowed four runs on five hits with seven strikeouts over 6 1/3 innings in his previous outing, defeating the Los Angeles Angels in Monterrey, Mexico on May 5.
Right-hander Lance Lynn (4-2, 5.75 ERA) will work opposite Verlander for the Rangers. He has won consecutive starts and four of his last five, dropping his ERA 0.76 points over two starts.
Lynn will work on extra rest after snapping the Rangers' three-game skid last Saturday against Toronto. He is 4-1 with a 1.89 ERA over seven career appearances (six starts) against Houston.
The Rangers and Astros continued what has been an interesting season series thus far, with the action shifting to Houston after Texas hosted a pair of three-game series last month. Four of the seven meetings between the teams have been decided by two or fewer runs, with the Astros evening the count in that regard by catching seemingly every break Thursday.
"I think it was just more frustrating because of how the whole game went," first-year Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. "Really unlucky. I'd hate to call a team lucky, but I'd like to say they were lucky (Thursday). They got a lot of weak hits, we didn't get much going offensively. Seemed like all the calls were going their way, and for Reddick to catch that last ball just kind of topped it off."
--Field Level Media
Updated May 10, 2019