ARLINGTON -- The Rangers found all sorts of ways to get runners on base Saturday against the Astros. They just never figured out how to get them home.Against some remarkably wild Astros pitching, the Rangers drew 10 walks. They also were hit by pitches five times, a franchise record. They
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers found all sorts of ways to get runners on base Saturday against the Astros. They just never figured out how to get them home.
Against some remarkably wild Astros pitching, the Rangers drew 10 walks. They also were hit by pitches five times, a franchise record. They reached a couple of times on fielder's choices. But in a 4-3 loss, the key statistic was the number of men the Rangers left on base.
"You look up at the board, we left 17," manager Jeff Banister said of the club-record-tying performance. "It's not that they were not in the fight; they were in the fight the whole way through. We just didn't get the hits. It's unfortunate and it doesn't feel good. However, I'll continue to take our chances -- we put  baserunners out there -- if we continue to do that every night, this offense will find a way to spark."
It's no secret the Rangers have struggled mightily with runners in scoring position this year, entering Saturday with an MLB-worst .206 average. Saturday's game was an especially egregious example as they went 1-for-17 (.059) in those situations.
Of the 23 batters Astros starter Charlie Morton faced, 12 reached base in a variety of manners; he walked six and plunked four. But all but two of the dozen runners Morton put on were left stranded on the diamond.
"I think it was kind of a testament to how good of a pitcher he is. … He didn't go long but nobody could still score on him," Rangers starter Mike Minor said.
Morton's review of his own performance was slightly more critical.
"I got away with not knowing where the ball was going," he said. "It was a pretty unprofessional outing, I think, bordering on embarrassing."
Nonetheless, the Rangers' inability to convert the scoring opportunities Morton did give them -- along with their bullpen's failure to maintain a 3-3 tie for Minor -- doomed them to their fifth consecutive loss to the Astros dating back to May 13. Their current four-game series wraps up Sunday at Globe Life Park.
Despite the massive left-on-base number on the scoreboard, there were some positive moments for Banister to cite. Delino DeShields patrolled center field with aplomb. The Rangers' infield turned three double plays. Minor put up his third quality start of the year, albeit in a no-decision. And during their final at-bat, the Rangers had the winning run at the plate.
"You know what I walk away from this game with?" Banister said. "Great defense in center field. We turned some great double plays. We played tremendous defense. We had a pitcher in Minor who early he had to find his way and settled into a rhythm. We only walked three hitters [but] two of the walks scored. I walk away with -- yes, losses hurt -- there's still development in process here, and I'm not going to focus solely on the offense.
"Losses never feel good. It's not about what we feel like, though -- it's about the production."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Jose Leclerc replaced Minor to start the seventh with the game tied at 3, but Leclerc ultimately allowed the go-ahead run to score in the inning. Max Stassi reached on a one-out walk, and George Springer later singled to left to score Stassi. Leclerc had worked seven scoreless innings in his last seven games and retired 10 of the last 12 batters he faced entering the game.
"Leclerc I thought still threw the ball well," Banister said. "He made a good pitch to Springer, Springer put the ball in play just out of the reach of [left fielder Joey] Gallo."
Four Rangers batters were hit by a pitch, including Jurickson Profar who was hit twice by Morton. Rougned Odor, Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Robinson Chirinos were all hit once. The previous club record of four has happened eight times. The most recent one was on April 12, 2015, against the Astros in a 14-inning game.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
DeShields made three fine catches in the second and third innings Saturday, all of them requiring him to cover a lot of distance in a hurry. With no outs in the second, Marwin Gonzalez smoked a line drive to the gap in right-center. The ball had a catch probability of only 48 percent according to Statcast™ and DeShields had to cover 85 feet in 4.7 seconds, sprinting at an elite-level 30.3 feet per second to make a four-star catch.
In the third, DeShields went all the way to the 404-foot sign on the wall -- 102 feet from where he was positioned -- to catch a deep fly from Alex Bregman. In the next at-bat, DeShields then made another spectacular grab to rob Jose Altuve of a hit, end the inning and earn a standing ovation from the Rangers faithful as he jogged to the dugout.
Adrian Beltre is expected back in the lineup in the Rangers' series finale against the Astros at 2:05 p.m. CT on Sunday at Globe Life Park. Beltre was given most of the day off Saturday after striking out four times Friday, though he hit into a game-ending double play as a pinch-hitter Saturday. Rangers left-hander Matt Moore (1-5, 7.47 ERA) will face Dallas Keuchel (3-8, 4.13 ERA). Beltre has batted .292 (19-for-65) and hit two home runs in his career against Keuchel.
Dave Sessions is a contributor to MLB.com based in Texas.