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Rangers edge Astros on Lewis' moxie, Prince's bat

May 20, 2016

HOUSTON -- Colby Lewis fired seven scoreless innings and Prince Fielder provided the offense with a two-run double as the Rangers edged the Astros, 2-1, on Friday night at Minute Maid Park."He [provided] us with the two runs that were the difference in the ballgame, our only offense really," Texas

HOUSTON -- Colby Lewis fired seven scoreless innings and Prince Fielder provided the offense with a two-run double as the Rangers edged the Astros, 2-1, on Friday night at Minute Maid Park.
"He [provided] us with the two runs that were the difference in the ballgame, our only offense really," Texas manager Jeff Banister said of Fielder's third-inning double. "I think we struck out 13 times tonight. Sometimes just enough is just enough."
Lewis (3-0), who went 4-0 with a 4.15 ERA against the Astros last year, improved to 10-1 against Houston in his career. He allowed only four singles, didn't walk a batter and struck out six.
"He does a really good job of pounding the strike zone," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said of Lewis. "There's a lot of first-pitch strikes, he can throw a couple of different styles of breaking balls and never really makes a mistakes against us. We just couldn't generate any offense against him."
Lance McCullers (0-1) held the Rangers two runs on five hits with seven strikeouts in six innings, but the Astros didn't get the bats going until the ninth.
Jose Altuve started the rally with a leadoff double to extend his hitting streak to 12 games, and Colby Rasmus shot an RBI single to left two outs later to make it 2-1. Rangers reliever Sam Dyson struck out Evan Gattis to strand Rasmus at first and end the game.
Lewis' wild night: It was not a boring night for Lewis, and his pitching was the least of it. He made a beautiful play with a nifty flip of his glove to rob a bunt hit from Tony Kemp in the sixth. Oh, and he got drilled in the head by a Carlos Correa line drive Statcast™ tracked at 101 mph. In his final inning, Correa hit a ball that caromed off the back of Lewis' head high in the air and into shallow center field, where second baseman Rougned Odor reeled in with a sliding catch. The Rangers got the out, and then no doubt a feeling of relief after head trainer Kevin Harmon confirmed Lewis was OK. 
"I felt it a little bit," Lewis said. "I turned around and saw the ball in the air and all I wanted to do was … I was kind of yelling at myself and yelling at Rougie like, 'Catch the ball. Get the out.' When he got the out, you're pumped up in that situation, you shake the other stuff off and get back to work." More >

Lance a lot better: After giving up five runs, seven hits and three walks in his first outing of the season a week ago in Boston, McCullers resembled the confident pitcher he was in his rookie season of 2015 by giving the Astros their third consecutive quality start. This was his first start at home this year after being slowed all spring by right shoulder soreness.
"It doesn't matter if it's my first start or my 30th, I want to pitch well for the team and I felt like I gave us a good chance win today," McCullers said. "Sometimes no matter what you do, you just lose ballgames. We played well today." More >

The Prince is here: The Rangers didn't get much off McCullers, but they capitalized on their best scoring threat. Back in the No. 3 spot in the order, Fielder cranked a one-out, two-run double that was all the offense Texas needed. Kemp may have slightly misplayed the ball in left field, but it was rocketed off Fielder's bat with a 100-mph exit velocity, according to Statcast™. Fielder now has 12 of his 23 RBIs this season in the three-hole despite taking only 64 of his 170 plate appearances there.
"Prince has been swinging the bat. We like the at-bats, how they've gone," Banister said. "He's been more selective and making the pitchers come back to him, so I felt like it was time to get him back in that three-hole and try to capitalize on where he's at right now."

Electric youth: Astros reliever Michael Feliz retired all nine batters he faced and had electric stuff, striking out a career-high six (the first and last hitter in each inning). Feliz has struck out 26 batters in 17 innings this season and allowed one earned run in 7 2/3 innings since being recalled on May 6. He's the first Astros reliever to throw at least three scoreless innings with six strikeouts since Brad Lidge on May 31, 2003 at the Chicago Cubs.
"He's growing up and I love watching him be the aggressor, because he's got size, he's got velocity, he's making pitches," Hinch said. "You can see his confidence growing when he walks off the mound. It's a couple of punchouts an inning for three straight innings against some pretty good hitters." More >

"He felt pain. Colby is a tough guy. We don't expect him to be so tough that he takes one off his nugget and continues to pitch. It's a scary moment when anybody gets hit." -- Banister, on Lewis' shot off the head
Rangers outfielder Shin-Soo Choo was back in the lineup after nearly six weeks on the disabled list with a right calf injury, but his return lasted only 2 1/2 innings. After walking for the second time and scoring on Fielder's double, Choo was replaced by Ryan Rua in right field to start the bottom of the third inning. He is day to day. More >

The Rangers have won 12 of their last 14 meetings against the Astros, improving to 17-6 in the Lone Star rivalry since the start of last year.
Rangers:Cesar Ramos gets the nod as the Rangers look to claim the series at 6:15 p.m. CT on Saturday at Minute Maid Park. Ramos is making his third spot start on the back end of the rotation. While solid enough at keeping opponents off the scoreboard, the lefty has employed a high-stress style with a 1.80 WHIP in 16 2/3 innings.
Astros:Mike Fiers will make his first start since May 9 when he faces the Rangers on Saturday. His last outing came in relief when he threw four innings and gave up two runs on six hits Sunday vs. Boston. He's 3-1 with a 4.65 ERA in seven starts, allowing 46 hits and only six walks in 40 2/3 innings.
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Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

Chris Abshire is a contributor to He covered the Rangers on Friday.