Missed chances doom Rangers against Houston

Texas Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux (right) and catcher J.P. Arencibia (left) meet starting pitcher Tanner Scheppers (52) on the mound for a conference during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Houston Astros at Globe Life Park in Arlington.

Jim Cowsert/Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

ARLINGTON, Texas – The Texas Rangers certainly had opportunities to extend their winning streak over the Houston Astros to 13-straight games.

Maybe that would have been the case if Tanner Scheppers could have avoided the big inning, as Houston scored five times in the fourth inning Saturday. Maybe that would have been the case if Alex Rios wouldn’t have run the Rangers out of a shot at a big inning by getting thrown out trying to steal third with no outs in a one-run game in the eighth. Maybe that would have been the case if the Rangers could have scored a run after getting the tying run on second base with no outs in the 10th inning.

But the Rangers missed out on all of those opportunities and more as the Astros beat Texas 6-5 in 10 innings at Globe Life Park, dropping Texas to 5-6 on the season.

"We’re going to do good things," said Rios, who also was the victim of a bad-hop triple to put what turned out to be the game-winning run at third in the 10th. "We’re going to hit. We’re going to pitch well. It’s a matter of getting things together. It’s still early in the season. We’re showing we can come back at any time. We’re capable of doing things."

The Rangers were capable of doing things Saturday but didn’t do enough.

Scheppers didn’t allow a hit through the first three innings and just one over his final three Saturday night. But the fourth inning was another story as Houston turned a 2-0 deficit into a 5-2 lead. Four of those five runs came with two outs as Robbie Grossman, who came into the game hitting .081, launched a three-run homer to right to break a 2-2 tie.

Those were the only runs Scheppers allowed on a night he pitched seven innings and struck out six. But he knows that’s not good enough as 12 of the 14 runs he’s allowed in his three starts have come with two outs.

"As an outing you always look at the whole thing," said Scheppers, whose ERA is now 7.88. "When the offense does everything right, they scored first, gave me some run support,  I’ve got to be able to lock it down. I felt like the first three innings were good and the last three innings were good. I’ve got to do a better job there (in the fourth). It’s about executing pitches."

The offense could have bailed Scheppers out but again squandered chances, going 2 for 13 with runners in scoring position. Texas had baserunners in all but two innings but settled for single runs in five frames.

They had a chance at more though, especially in the eighth. Down 5-3, Rios sparked a rally with a double to left that scored Elvis Andrus and made it a one-run game. But with Prince Fielder at the plate, Rios tried to steal third and was thrown out by Carlos Corporan. That ended the threat there.

Texas did tie the game in the bottom of the ninth as Michael Choice led off with homer to right center, the first-career homer for the lifelong Arlington resident. But again the Rangers missed out on a chance to end the game as they couldn’t come through with the big hit after putting the winning run at second base with one out.

That scenario played out in the 10th as well after Elvis Andrus singled and stole second. But Rios was then robbed by Houston shortstop Jonathan Villar on a play in the hole. After Anthony Bass intentionally walked Prince Fielder, he struck out Kevin Kouzmanoff and got Choice to ground out to end the game.

Opportunities lost indeed.