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Hamels can't contain Astros as Rangers fall

Lefty, who could be targeted by contenders, stumbles in 4th
MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

ARLINGTON -- Rangers pitcher Cole Hamels faced the minimum of nine batters through the first three innings on Thursday, with ground-ball double plays erasing a couple of leadoff walks.

Hamels still sensed things weren't going right and that proved to be the case in the fourth inning. Hamels took a 1-0 lead into the fourth but the Astros struck for three runs, including two on a home run by Evan Gattis, and sent the Rangers to a 5-2 loss at Globe Life Park.

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ARLINGTON -- Rangers pitcher Cole Hamels faced the minimum of nine batters through the first three innings on Thursday, with ground-ball double plays erasing a couple of leadoff walks.

Hamels still sensed things weren't going right and that proved to be the case in the fourth inning. Hamels took a 1-0 lead into the fourth but the Astros struck for three runs, including two on a home run by Evan Gattis, and sent the Rangers to a 5-2 loss at Globe Life Park.

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"I got some really good, key double plays, but at the same time, a couple of those innings, the way you started off with walks is not good," Hamels said. "It kind of leads into things that are not going to be the right type of scenarios. Zeros can look good, but I think you really have to kind of look into it a little bit deeper."

Video: HOU@TEX: Guzman handles grounder to start double play

The game was delayed 40 minutes at the start by the evening storms, and that seemed to bother Astros starter Gerrit Cole more than it did Hamels, at least in the beginning. The Rangers were able to get one in the first on a leadoff walk to Shin-Soo Choo and singles by Jurickson Profar and Adrian Beltre.

Video: HOU@TEX: Beltre lifts an RBI single to center field

In the fourth, Hamels gave up a double to Alex Bregman with one out and he scored on a single by Jose Altuve. With two outs up came Gattis, and Hamels threw him two straight changeups. Gattis missed the first one but not the second, hitting it a projected 415 feet, according to Statcast™, into the left-field seats. The home run was Gattis' fourth in his career off Hamels, the most of any active player. (David Wright has five but hasn't played since 2016 due to injuries.)

Video: HOU@TEX: Gattis crushes a 2-run homer to deep left

"No matter the situation, good games, bad games, there's always underlying and hidden situations that really kind of tell a better story of how a game really transpired," Hamels said. "If you look at the way I was going after guys, and not really being able to get ahead, and then just not throwing the right pitches at the right time."

Hamels' outing comes during what could be an interesting summer for him. With the MLB Draft over, clubs are focusing their attention on their big league needs, and trade talks are expected to increase as the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline draws near.

Video: HOU@TEX: Hamels discusses tough outing in loss

Rangers president of baseball operations and general manager Jon Daniels, who received a contract extension Thursday, said his club is starting to evaluate and identify talent in other organizations in case they start showing interest in Texas players.

Hamels has a chance to be high on any club's list that needs starting pitching and one bad inning is unlikely to change anything. This was his 13th start of the season and the 375th of his career. Every Major League team knows who Hamels is and what he can bring to a contender, even if he has had to reinvent himself as a pitcher as he has grown older.

"I thought he was throwing the ball well," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "He [faced the minimum] for three innings. Back-to-back changeups to Gattis, looked like a pitch that was out over the plate, had a little height to it and Gattis put a good swing on it. Even at the end, he was still throwing the ball well. Stuff was still crisp."

Video: HOU@TEX: Banister on Hamels' outing in the loss

Gattis got Hamels again in the sixth when the Rangers elected to pitch to him with Altuve at second and two outs. Hamels went after Gattis and he lined a single to center to drive home another run. Hamels' night came to an end after allowing a home run to Bregman with one out in the eighth.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
With no outs in the seventh and the Rangers trailing, 4-1, Rougned Odor was caught stealing second with Ronald Guzman at the plate. Carlos Perez and Choo both singled later in the inning, but the Rangers came away scoreless after Profar lined out to right to end the frame.

Video: HOU@TEX: Stassi cuts down Odor trying to swipe second

Video: HOU@TEX: Devenski retires Profar to leave 2 on base

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
With two outs in the sixth, Astros left fielder Tony Kemp made a leaping catch on a sharp liner from Isiah Kiner-Falefa to end the inning. Kiner-Falefa's drive had a 68 percent hit probability and an exit velocity of 101.8 mph.

Video: HOU@TEX: Kemp leaps to make an incredible catch

HE SAID IT
"Gerrit Cole, he threw the ball extremely well. He had all his pitches, up to 98 [mph], threw the ball inside and crowded our hitters, breaking ball was sharp -- similar to what we have seen all year." -- Banister

UP NEXT
Doug Fister pitches against the Astros at 7:05 p.m. CT on Friday at Globe Life Park. Fister faced the Astros on March 30 in Arlington and earned his only win of the season, holding them to one run in five innings. He is 0-6 with a 4.34 ERA in his last 10 starts. That includes a start against the Astros in Houston on May 12, when he allowed three runs in 6 1/3 innings in a 6-1 loss. Justin Verlander will pitch for the Astros.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

Texas Rangers, Cole Hamels