Despite Jung's big night, Rangers can't shake Altuve, Astros

July 1st, 2023

ARLINGTON -- Newly-elected All-Star Game starters and belted back-to-back home runs, but the Rangers came up short in the series opener against the American League West-rival Astros, losing 5-3 Friday night at Globe Life Field.

The scoring got started early in the battle of Texas teams, as Jose Altuve hammered the first pitch of the ballgame out of the park to straightaway center field. Altuve’s 421-foot blast was his 26th career home run against the Rangers, which is the third-most among active MLB players behind Mike Trout (44) and George Springer (28).

Even after the leadoff blast, it was not the sharpest of days for Rangers starting pitcher , as the right-hander yielded five runs on seven hits against the Astros.

“Not a start to feel good about,” Gray said. “It wasn’t good overall but, personally, I felt like [the Astros] did a great job on the inside tonight. I thought we made really good pitches, but they somehow found a way to get on base.”

Despite Gray suffering his second straight loss, his skipper was not quite as critical of the performance as Gray’s assessment.

“He threw the ball well,” Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said. “Going into that sixth inning, he got ahead of the hitters, but they had three straight two-strike hits and that’s what led to the three-run inning there.

“But [Gray] had good stuff. So, give [the Astros] credit. They did a good piece of hitting with two strikes and that was the difference in the ballgame.”

On offense, it was a relatively quiet night at the plate for the Rangers.

The biggest offensive splash of the night came in the bottom of the fourth inning, when Jung and Heim launched back-to-back solo home runs to give the Rangers an early 3-1 lead.

Jung, who was chosen to be the first Rangers rookie to start in the All-Star Game, drove an 0-1 fastball 392 feet out of the ballpark for an opposite-field home run. Jung’s 17th home run of the season extended his hitting streak to four games. He also has hit safely in seven of his last 10 games.

“Nice ballgame by [Jung] tonight,” Bochy said. “He had a good game defensively, and he had a home run on the back to back to give us a 3-1 lead. So, the kid played very well tonight.”

Not to be outdone, Heim went yard in the following at-bat and belted a 94.6 mph fastball 415 feet to straightaway center field. The monstrous blast was Heim’s 12th homer of the season, the second-most among qualified AL catchers.

Unfortunately for the Rangers, after the pair of home runs in the fourth inning, the bats went cold as the team mustered just two hits the rest of the way.

Despite the loss, Texas finished June with a 14-13 record and are still atop the AL West, leading second-place Houston by four games.