Astros Struggles At Home Continue

Astros 1 hit by Hamels, drop series opener

May 11, 2018 - 11:37 pm
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The Astros continued to struggle at home Friday night, dropping their series opener against the Rangers 1-0. 

The loss, snaps a 3 game win streak, drops their record to 24-16 overall and marks the fourth time in their last eleven home games they've been shutout.

Justin Verlander (4-2) gave up some hard hit balls early, but was able to match zero's with Rangers right-hander Cole Hamels (2-4) for most of the night. 

Admittedly, after the game, Verlander said that he didn't have a very good feel for his slider, but he was able to supplant that with his changeup and locating his fastball. 

"It was probably my worst start with the slider. Luckily the curve ball was there, fastball control got better as the game went on, I threw some big changeups. I guess thats one of the advantages of having four pitches, you can't count on them all being there everyday, youve got to be able to adjust on the fly," Verlander said. 

While Astro hitters struggled with Hamels through the first half of the game, they were also unable unable to capitalize on 3 walks, 2 hit batsman and an error in Hamels six innings of 1 hit ball.

Verlander could only hold the Rangers off for so long, allowing a leadoff double to Nomar Mazara, then walking Adrian Beltre on four pitches. It was the first real trouble Verlander had been in all game. 

Approaching 100 pitches, Verlander lost the battle with right-handed slugger Joey Gallo, walking the bases loaded after a seven pitch at bat. Astros manager AJ Hinch promtly pulled Verlander and went with right-handed reliever Chris Devenski to try and get the Astros out of the bases loaded jam.

Devenski, ahead in the count 0-2 on Rangers shortstop Jurickson Profar, hung a fastball to Profar, who hit it hard for an out to left field, but deep enough to score Mazara and give the Rangers a 1-0 lead. 

Devenksi got the left-handed hitting Roughned Odor looking on a four-seam fastball over the inside corner for the second out. 

Escaping further damage, Devinski stranded runners on first and second, striking out Robinson Chirinos on four pitches for the final out of the seventh.

"When I go home and lay my head down tonight and kind of recap the game, I'm upset at myself for walking Gallo and other than that, you know, this game is hard enough. You have to take the positives and I kept our guys in the game and unfortunately we didn't come out on top," Verlander said. 

The Rangers threatened to add more in the eighth, but Astros lefty specialist Tony Sipp stranded a runner on third, getting a called third strike on Mazara.  

Held to just one hit all game long, a leadoff single by Evan Gattis in the fifth, the Astros best opportunity to score came in the bottom half of the eighth inning.

Josh Reddick worked a walk to lead off the inning, advanced to second after tagging up on a long fly ball out off the bat of Jose Altuve for the second out. However, the mini rally was stifled after Carlos Correa popped out to a hustling Ronald Guzman at first, making a slick over the shoulder catch in short right field for the final out of the frame. 

Astros game story by: Shaun Bijani

Notes:

Astros CF George Springer is listed as day to day after suffering a left elbow contusion in the 3rd inning on a HBP from Rangers starter Cole Hamels. Springer was replaced prior to the start of the fourth inning in CF by Jake Marisnick. 

Astros manager AJ Hinch said after the game Springer did have an x-ray performed on his left elbow and the result was negative.