Rangers can't hold off AL West leaders in extras

After Choo's HR highlights early Texas outburst, Minor unable to preserve lead

July 4th, 2018

ARLINGTON -- Reliever Chris Martin returned to the mound for the Rangers on Wednesday, one day after being optioned to Triple-A Round Rock, but the mound itself played a part in him allowing the go-ahead run to score in the 10th inning of the Rangers' 5-4 loss to the Astros at Globe Life Park.
With one out in the 10th, Martin allowed a single with one out, then hit Yuli Gurriel with a pitch. He then made a throwing error on a pickoff play to second base, allowing Altuve and Gurriel to advance to second and third, respectively. Moments later, Evan Gattis scored Altuve with a sacrifice fly.
Martin said he was having trouble with his delivery due to a slick mound. The start of the game was delayed for 10 minutes after Rangers starter Mike Minor requested that the grounds crew work on the mound, and Astros starter seemed to have similar problems with it.
"I was kind of having a hard time with my delivery," Martin said. "I feel like when I was landing, it was never a solid landing."
Martin also said he was dealing with a left groin injury but added that the mound didn't cause that.
"I think all night long, the mound seemed to be slick," manager Jeff Banister said. "Both Cole and Minor were having a hard time getting their footing. They seemed to be slipping. I think it carried throughout the night.
"Then we saw it there with Martin. Slipped on the pitch that he hit Gurriel with. ... We're going to get him evaluated and see where he's at."
The Rangers scored three runs in the third inning and built an early 4-0 lead for Minor, but the Rangers were unable to preserve the lead. Minor allowed three runs in the fourth, including a two-run home run to , and allowed a solo shot to Gurriel in the fifth.

"I thought they started recognizing pitches a little bit better," Minor said. "Maybe I wasn't throwing them as crisp as [I was] earlier in the game. Had that bad inning in the fourth. The two-run home run to Reddick kind of hurt me. Got him 0-2, but I guess he put a pretty good swing on it."
Minor was the best Rangers' pitcher in June, posting a 2-0 record with a 2.08 ERA, but he was shaky against the Astros, allowing seven hits, four runs (three earned) and walking three across six innings.
"Heavy mix of sliders today. Probably not as sharp as he's been," Banister said of Minor. "Looked like they were sitting on his slider. Almost all the damage was done off of that."
The Rangers went down in order in the 10th against closer , who recorded his 12th save of the season.

Texas has now lost eight straight games to Houston, the longest slide against their division rival in club history. The Rangers will wrap up their season series vs. the Astros on July 27-29 at Minute Maid Park.
extended his MLB-high on-base streak to 44 games when he hit an opposite-field homer off Cole in the third inning. Choo is now tied with Otis Nixon for the second-longest on-base streak in club history.

With runners on first and second and no outs in the sixth, Choo laid down a sacrifice bunt, which allowed and to advance to second and third, respectively. But followed with a groundout, and struck out to end the inning to keep the game tied at 4.

"Choo bunted. He felt like he was going to make a baseball play there," Banister said. "It's not a bad play, sets us up for Elvis in that situation, runners at second and third and an opportunity to drive in a couple runs."
The home run Minor allowed to Reddick was just the second he has given up to a left-handed batter this season. Kansas City's Mike Moustakas hit the other on May 25.
With the game tied at 4 in the seventh, made a terrific catch on a foul ball hit by Gurriel against the netting behind home plate to end the inning.

The Rangers open a four-game road series Thursday against the Tigers at 6:10 p.m. CT at Comerica Park. Veteran right-hander (2-0, 9.00 ERA), who is making a case to stay in the rotation after returns, will start for Texas, with lefty Matthew Boyd (4-6, 4.18 ERA) getting the nod for Detroit.