ARLINGTON -- Right-hander Austin Bibens-Dirkx has been effective since rejoining the Rangers' rotation late last month, but the two home runs he allowed to the Astros in Tuesday's series opener ultimately cost him.Bibens-Dirkx gave up a solo shot to Josh Reddick and a two-run home run to Tony Kemp in
ARLINGTON -- Right-hander Austin Bibens-Dirkx has been effective since rejoining the Rangers' rotation late last month, but the two home runs he allowed to the Astros in Tuesday's series opener ultimately cost him.
Bibens-Dirkx gave up a solo shot to Josh Reddick and a two-run home run to Tony Kemp in the third inning, which proved to be the difference in the Rangers' 5-3 loss to the Astros at Globe Life Park.
Before allowing a season-high five runs (all earned) against the Astros, Bibens-Dirkx had been on a strong stretch, allowing just one run in his last 11 2/3 innings.
But after the three-run third, Bibens-Dirkx settled in and found a rhythm as he tries to make a case to remain in the rotation once left-hander Martin Perez returns from the disabled list. Bibens-Dirkx retired nine of the final 12 batters he faced and got through six innings for Texas.
"To get through six in that situation was huge for us," manager Jeff Banister said. "Early on, it didn't look like it was going to be the case. [He] didn't really have enough sink on the fastball, so his only depth pitch was his slider, and they were able to see the spin and lay off. But for him to battle and get through six was huge."
Bibens-Dirkx, who allowed two runs in a 31-pitch first inning, said he had to make an adjustment with his pace during the early stages of his start.
"My pace was a little slow those first three innings," Bibens-Dirkx said. "That's something [pitching coach Doug] Brocail mentioned to me in the dugout. Once I fixed that, I was able to get out in front a little more. I wasn't taking as much time in between pitches, and I was able to keep them on their toes and execute better."
Delino DeShields hit an RBI double in the third and Shin-Soo Choo added an RBI single in the fifth, but that's all the Rangers could muster against left-hander Dallas Keuchel.
Banister said Bibens-Dirkx's ability to go deep in the game gave the Rangers a chance to come back in the late innings against the Astros' bullpen. The Rangers rallied to score a run in the eighth and threatened to score more, loading the bases with two outs. Joey Gallo, who entered the game as a pinch-hitter, loaded the bases by drawing a walk after a 12-pitch at-bat. But Robinson Chirinos struck out on a Hector Rondon slider to end the frame.
"It gave us a chance to keep the line moving," Gallo said of his at-bat. "That's all I was trying to do. It's always tough sitting on the bench all game and getting in there facing 100 [mph]. I was just trying to put together the best at-bat I could, and it just ended up going their way."
In the third, Choo extended his MLB-leading on-base streak to 43 games when he drew a walk from Keuchel. Choo would reach three more times, including an RBI single in the fifth.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Chirinos' strikeout capped an 0-for-4 night for the catcher, ending his six-game streak of recording an extra-base hit. Choo scored on a groundout from Rougned Odor earlier in the inning, but that was all Texas could muster in its comeback attempt.
The Rangers are now 4-11 against the Astros this season. Texas also has lost seven straight to Houston, tied for the second-longest slide in club history. The last time the Rangers lost seven straight to the Astros was in 2014.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
With one out in the seventh, Ryan Rua made a 5-star sliding catch down the left-field line on a ball hit by Reddick. According to Statcast™, the ball had a 22-percent catch probability, and Rua had to travel 79 feet in 4.3 seconds. Rua flashed a 28.8 feet-per-second sprint speed to make the grab.
HE SAID IT
"I think we're really good late in the game, honestly. Looking at random numbers, I saw we were one of the best eighth-/ninth-inning teams in terms of getting on base. ... We just go up there and try to grind, give the next guy a shot. If we're down, we're going to keep fighting and get the next guy up." -- Gallo, on the Rangers' comeback mentality
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
With no outs and a runner on first in the ninth, Odor started a double play when he caught a lineout from Alex Bregman and threw out George Springer at first. Astros manager AJ Hinch challenged the play, but the call stood.
Left-hander Mike Minor (6-4, 4.64 ERA) will pitch the finale against the Astros at 6:05 p.m. CT on Wednesday at Globe Life Park. Minor has been one of the Rangers' best starters of late, posting a 2-0 record and 2.08 ERA in four June starts. Righty Gerrit Cole (9-2, 2.50 ERA) gets the start for Houston.
Wesley Dotson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Texas.