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Rangers sweep Halos as big series looms

Hot bats prepare to face formidable Astros
@Sullivan_Ranger
April 17, 2019

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers dispatched the Angels with a three-game sweep. The red-hot Astros are on their way to Arlington. The Silver Boot Series should be something to see this Easter weekend at Globe Life Park. The Rangers will go into the series with a four-game winning streak after outfielder

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers dispatched the Angels with a three-game sweep. The red-hot Astros are on their way to Arlington.

The Silver Boot Series should be something to see this Easter weekend at Globe Life Park.

The Rangers will go into the series with a four-game winning streak after outfielder Shin-Soo Choo led another come-from-behind win and a 5-4 victory over the Angels on Wednesday night.

The Rangers trailed, 2-0, after three innings, but manufactured a run in the fourth and scored four more in the fifth. Lance Lynn picked up the win by holding the Angels to two runs in 5 2/3 innings. The Rangers have won five of their last six.

“Whenever you can sweep any team, it’s always huge,” Lynn said. “When it happens to be a team within your division, it is even better. We just need to keep doing what we are doing, keep getting better and see where it goes, because we have a good squad.”

Where this is going right now is a three-game series against a team that may be the hottest in the Major Leagues right now. The Astros, who saw their 10-game winning streak snapped by the Athletics on Wednesday night, will be here Friday night at Globe Life Park.

The Astros also have the top of the rotation lined up with Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Collin McHugh scheduled to pitch against Drew Smyly, Adrian Sampson and Shelby Miller for the Rangers.

The Silver Boot Series should be a fun early-season challenge for the Rangers, although they took two of three from the Astros earlier this month in Arlington, in games started by Verlander and Cole.

“We are going to fight tooth and nail to win those games,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “Prepare the best we can for all three of their starters and not be fearful and take it to them. Honestly that’s all we can do against any team. We’re not scared of them, obviously, they are a good ballclub. I have a ton of respect for them, but at the same time our guys are ready to go out and compete.”

The Rangers had to compete to the end Wednesday and it almost got away in the ninth. Closer José Leclerc was called on to protect a 5-3 lead and the Angels loaded the bases with no outs on a double by David Fletcher, a walk to Kole Calhoun and Mike Trout getting hit by a pitch.

Leclerc managed to get out of it. He struck out Justin Bour, who was ejected for arguing a called third strike. Andrelton Simmons hit a grounder to third baseman Patrick Wisdom, who took the force at third base while Fletcher scored to make it a one-run game. Leclerc then struck out Brian Goodwin to earn the save.

“The ninth inning is the hardest inning, obviously,” Woodward said. “I’ve seen it enough throughout my career, weird things happen. Jose got put in a pretty tight situation and pitched his way out of it, executed pitches when it mattered and got us a win.”

A leadoff walk by Choo led to the Rangers’ first run in the fourth inning against Angels starter Matt Harvey. Choo also had a two-run triple in the four-run fifth when the Rangers went ahead for good.

The Rangers are now 10-7 on the season and they have had to come from behind in seven of those wins. They are 7-3 when the opponents score first.

“Hopefully we can lead a game for the whole time, but that tells you something about this team,” Choo said. “We don’t give up. Everybody has good at-bats and is a tough out. That’s how it goes in making it stressful on the pitcher. Everybody, 1-9, did a good job and had good at-bats.”

That approach will be tested this weekend.

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.