HOUSTON -- The American League West race is still up for grabs, but the Silver Boot Trophy has been decided.
The Rangers will keep it for another year as Jonathan Lucroy's two home runs helped them to a 3-2 victory over the Astros at Minute Maid Park on Saturday night. The trophy goes to the team who wins the season series between the two clubs, and the Rangers are now 10-2 against the Astros with seven left between the two teams. They win it for the second straight season and ninth in the last 10 years.
"Thankful to get a win out here, they're battling pretty hard over there, the battle was pretty hard," Lucroy said. "It was a nice team win right there. In-state, it's something that you can't discount. They're getting after it like we are. A lot of fans out there excited and yelling. I'm glad we could get that [win] tonight."
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The win also leaves the Rangers with a 6 1/2-game lead over the Astros in the AL West, which means those seven left between the two teams are still significant. The Astros have lost nine of their last 12 games after having pulled within 2 1/2 games of the Rangers in the waning days of July.
Astros starter Doug Fister took a 1-0 lead into the sixth, but Lucroy tied it up with his 15th home run of the season and his second with the Rangers. The Rangers went ahead on an RBI single by Carlos Beltrán in the seventh, and Lucroy hit his second home run in the eighth. It was the seventh multihomer game of his career.
"I think he ambushed Fister with his fastball, and a pull homer in this ballpark is not necessarily all that uncommon," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "I think when he goes opposite field, that's a pretty good piece of hitting … the way he swung the bat tonight, that was a big difference-maker."
Rangers starter Lucas Harrell went just 3 2/3 innings, but five relievers held the Astros to one run the rest of the way. Keone Kela earned the win and Sam Dyson earned his 24th save.
"I can't say enough about the bullpen," Harrell said. "They did a great job."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Choo sparks at top:Shin-Soo Choo was 2-for-3 with two walks from the top of the Rangers' lineup. He scored the go-ahead run in the seventh when he drew a leadoff walk against reliever Chris Devenski, stole second and came around on Beltran's single. Beltran exited at the end of the inning due to a left quad contusion.
Stranded: The Astros loaded the bases twice in the first three innings, but only came away with a 1-0 lead out of it, due to a strikeout from rookie first baseman A.J. Reed to end the first and a groundout by outfielder Jake Marisnick to end the third. In total, the Astros were 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
"We had a chance in the first, we got the run in," Hinch said. "Chance in the second, chance in the third, chance in the fifth, chance in the ninth. That's a lot of innings to only come away with a couple of one-run innings, but credit to their guys for kind of walking the fine line.
Barnette's streak continues: Rangers reliever Tony Barnette's consecutive scoreless streak is now at 16 after he did not give up a run in 1 1/3 innings. It was close, as a leadoff hit by Carlos Correa and a one-out single by Preston Tucker put runners on the corners in the fifth. But Barnette got out of the inning by getting Reed to ground into a double play.
"Another tremendous job by Barnette," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said.
Lasers: After seven, the Rangers led 2-1, but it could've been a lot worse without the arm power of George Springer and Correa, who both made spectacular run-saving, inning-ending throws to the plate. Springer's in the fourth was particularly impressive. His throw from right field to get Nomar Mazara at home went 93.2 miles per hour, according to Statcast™. The Rangers challenged the play, but after review, the call was confirmed. More >
"What we're doing is battling," Fister said. "Guys aren't giving up. They're coming up ready to throw … the guys never give up. To see that fire and that ability to grind and play in tight ballgames, that's what's in our makeup as a team and that's what you want from a player."
Houston's All-Star second baseman José Altuve was not happy with the strike zone, enough that it got him ejected from the game. After striking out looking in the seventh, Altuve argued with home-plate umpire Alan Porter and was tossed. It was Altuve's first time getting ejected in his career. More >
"He never argues unless he's right," Hinch said, "and he was right, in my opinion."
Rangers: Right-hander Yu Darvish pitches against the Astros at 1:10 p.m. CT Sunday at Minute Maid Park. Darvish is looking for his first win since June 3 against the Mariners.
Astros:Joe Musgrove makes his first career start Sunday afternoon at Minute Maid Park. Musgrove struck out eight in 4 1/3 scoreless innings during his Major League debut on Tuesday against the Blue Jays.
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