More walk-off magic for Rangers in win over Astros
ARLINGTON, Texas — The smell of beer is becoming common in the Texas Rangers clubhouse following games this season.
That’s because ever the Rangers win in walk-off fashion, the hero gets showered with the cold stuff when they get inside.
Friday night it was Robinson Chirinos who got the honors and he didn’t seem to mind.
"If it happens like that every night we’ll take it," Chirinos said.
It was Chirinos who drove in the only run of a 1-0 win over Houston, singling to center with two outs in the bottom of the 12th to end a night marked by great pitching and awful hitting.
The victory moved the Rangers to 3-1 at Globe Life Park and all three of the wins have come in walkoffs. It also gave the Rangers their 12th-consecutive victory over the Astros.
"It was a fun game actually," Elvis Andrus said. "We’ve got to take the good things and throw away the bad things. Those guys were making good pitches. It’s not that easy sometimes like people think. In the end we won the game and that’s what matters."
There were plenty of good pitches to be had by both teams. Texas ace Yu Darvish allowed just one hit in eight innings despite pitching with a bloody right thumb after he cut himself with his own finger. But Darvish was matched by former Texas pitcher Scott Feldman, who pitched seven innings of two-hit ball to match Darvish.
Darvish hasn’t allowed a run in either of his starts, becoming just the second pitcher in club history to open the season with two scoreless starts of at least seven innings.
Darvish had plenty of help from the bullpen too as Joakim Soria, Alexi Ogando, Neal Cotts and Jason Frasor each followed with scoreless outings.
Any of the five Texas pitchers had chances at the win if the Texas offense would have been able to come up with a clutch hit. That didn’t happen though until Chirinos delivered. The Rangers were 0 for 14 with runners in scoring position before Chirinos hit the game winner.
The lowlight for the offense was the 10th inning when the Rangers loaded the bases with no outs. That forced the Astros to go with five infielders and two outfielders. But the Rangers couldn’t get a ball out of the infield as Mitch Moreland hit into a fielders’s choice, Chirinos struck out and Leonys Martin grounded out to end that inning.
"As a hitter it sucks, especially in that situation," Andrus said of the team’s struggles. "It’s early I the year, that’s going to happen. I’d rather it happen right now than later in the season. It’s always good when you get a W."
While the Rangers were squandering opportunities, the Texas pitchers made sure Houston didn’t have any. The Astros had just two hits and left just four runners on base. The Rangers are just the ninth team since 1914 to hold an opponent to two or fewer hits in a game of at least 12 innings.
Houston was fortunate to get its one off Darvish too. That came in the sixth inning when Matt Dominguez blooped a leadoff single to center. His hit came just after he fouled a ball to right field that Alex Rios couldn’t get too.
That was really Houston’s only chance at anything against Darvish, who struck out nine, walked just one and threw 101 pitches in eight innings. He threw many of those with blood on his uniform that came from his thumb. Darvish didn’t think that was a big deal either.
"This happened many times in Japan and it didn’t hurt me," Darvish said. "It didn’t affect me, even a bit."
Darvish has also pitched at least five no-hit innings in three of his seven career starts against Houston. That’s good for Darvish, who figures to face the Astros several more times this season, and bad for Houston.
Darvish can’t pinpoint why that’s the case though.
"The approach has been the same," he said. "I think it’s sheer luck. If I could pitch like this in every game that I pitch, it would be very nice."