Rangers' road woes continue in Houston

May 12th, 2019

HOUSTON -- Rangers manager Chris Woodward held a team meeting on Sunday afternoon after the Astros completed a four-game sweep with a 15-5 victory at Minute Maid Park.

Woodward did not rant or berate his team, nor did he follow the time-honored managerial tradition of dumping over the post-game food spread.

“I pulled the team aside and said I was proud of their effort,” Woodward said. “They fought to the end. We just didn’t give in. Obviously, we didn’t execute some pitches today and they hit the ball hard. That’s something we have to learn from. We have to figure out how to minimize our mistakes.”

Veteran outfielder Hunter Pence also spoke during the meeting after the Rangers lost for the 13th time in their last 18 games. Their overall road record is now 5-14 on the season.

“We've got to continue to grow, continue to get better,” Pence said. “You have to look to improve on things. You have to do some inner reflection. There are lessons to be learned when you get beat, if you look at things objectively rather than emotionally. When you play teams of this caliber, you find out what you are made of. Let's not let this [series] define us. Let's get better from it."

There wasn’t much more to say. The Astros won a World Series two years ago and their stated goal is to do it again this year. The Rangers have talked openly about being in rebuilding mode.

The Rangers did take four out of six from the Astros in Arlington earlier this year. But this series reinforced the pronounced differences between the two teams. Woodward said that is something the Rangers need to learn from moving forward.

“When you take care of the baseball and execute pitches, you have quality at-bats, you don’t chase out of the strike zone, typically good things happen,” Woodward said. “You get outs, you get hits, you get on base. When you don’t do those things, you get exposed.”

The Rangers were exposed and starting pitching remains the biggest difference. Astros starters had a 1.85 ERA in the series after rookie Corbin Martin, in his Major League debut, held the Rangers to three runs, two earned, in 5 1/3 innings.

Right-hander Adrian Sampson, who has pitched well in relief for the Rangers, continues to struggle to get on a similar role as a starter. He allowed six runs, five earned, in 3 1/3 innings and is now 0-3 with a 5.25 ERA in five starts.

The Rangers trailed 4-0 after two innings before getting on the scoreboard with Isiah Kiner-Falefa’s first home run of the season. Elvis Andrus also had a two-run home run in the ninth.

“They beat us this series,” Andrus said. “There’s nothing we can do about it. Just turn the page and get ready for the next one. There was a different edge facing us. They do have an amazing rotation.”

The Rangers scored 33 runs in six games against the Astros in the two earlier series in Arlington. They managed just 11 runs over four games at Minute Maid Park while hitting .180 with a .250 on-base percentage and a .320 slugging percentage. Their hitters had 52 strikeouts and just 11 walks.

The Rangers also committed two errors on Sunday for the second straight game, leading to five unearned runs.

“We have been playing clean baseball up until the third game here,” Woodward said. “We made some critical mistakes and the games got out of hand. Learning moments every time you put guys out on the field. We have to learn from our mistakes and keep fighting.

“If I felt there was a lack of effort, maybe I would [be upset]. Our guys are fighting, they are trying, they’re grinding. Obviously, our pitchers got hit pretty hard today but it wasn’t a lack of effort. There is nothing I should be upset about. Execution is one thing, but I’m not upset at our effort.”