ARLINGTON -- All season long, the Rangers have been much better playing at home than the road. Coming into Monday’s series opener against the Astros, the club had a 31-37 record at Globe Life Field and was 22-52 on the road.
Things might have changed over the last week though. After an encouraging road trip in which Texas won six of nine games across three cities, it followed it up with a 15-1 dismantling at the hands of the Astros at Globe Life Field on Monday Night.
The 15 runs were the most the Rangers have allowed in a game this season.
“I give credit to [the Astros],” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “This is a very good lineup. They’ve really worked hard. Every at-bat, if we put a ball down the middle, they hammered it and if we didn't throw it over the plate, they didn't swing … [The pitchers] learned how to face a tough lineup. You got to execute pitches and you got to attack them. If you don't, they're gonna make you pay.”
The Astros opened with three runs in the first inning against Rangers starter Spencer Howard -- who didn't make it out of the second inning -- and never let up from there. They went on to score in each of the first three innings before adding to the lead in the sixth and seventh innings.
Howard, making just his second appearance since coming off the COVID-19 IL, labored through 1 1/3 innings and couldn’t command the ball well against a tough lineup.
Woodward said Howard looked good warming up in the bullpen, but wasn’t able to bring it to the game. Woodward thought there was a lack of conviction in his delivery that affected his ability to work through Houston’s lineup.
"Howard, he wasn't very good today,” Woodward said. “His mechanics were all over the place, his command wasn't great. He's obviously been working on a lot of things and today it didn't show up. This kid's got a great arm and he's all in on what we're trying to do. We're trying to make some changes right now that'll benefit him long term. It may look good at times or it may not like tonight, so like I said he was facing a tough lineup. It's a tough challenge to kind of go out against those guys, if you're not executing well."
Rangers rookie and No. 22 prospect A.J. Alexy entered in relief in the third inning and gave up the first runs of his MLB career. Alexy tossed 11 innings without allowing a run to begin his big league career, but gave up six runs in 3 2/3 innings in the loss to the Astros.
Woodward noted that Alexy didn’t throw the ball poorly, but just that Astros executed very well against him. The right-hander also gave up his first walk of his career, giving Houston four free bases in his outing.
“They have one of the best lineups in Major League Baseball right now so there's always that aspect of I know eventually I'm going to give up some runs,” Alexy said. “It's the game of baseball. But it's tough to pitch when you're beating yourself, with the 3-2 counts and walking guys. It’s just a lot of adjustments that we need to make.”
Woodward said it was a good learning experience for Howard and Alexy, both of whom are playing in their first Major League seasons. Woodward and the coaching staff expect to see progress from both pitchers through the end of the season and into the winter.