June 10: Texas 6, Houston 0
In real life, Nolan Ryan did not pitch nearly as many innings for the Rangers as he did the Angels or Astros, but inning-for-inning, the Rangers might have gotten the best out of him. That was thanks mostly to the older Ryan gaining a modicum of control and having the lowest walk rates of his career.
In the Rhubarb, Texas’s Ryan got off to a mediocre start, with an acceptable 5.6 walks per nine innings in his first eight starts, but a below-average 5.08 ERA in that stretch. The results have started coming in his last three starts, despite his walk rate actually ticking up a bit in that stretch.
This start was Texas Ryan’s best yet, and the first game in which he did not allow an earned run. The Astros managed just four hits against him, in addition to drawing four walks, and Ryan’s defense turned three double plays to help out.
On the offensive side, Adrian Beltre had a day with two singles, a double, two RBI, and a run.
R H BB HOU 000 000 000 - 0 4 5 TEX 211 000 20x - 6 12 6 HR: none starters IP R ER HR BB SO M. Cuellar 6.0 4 4 0 4 6 N. Ryan 7.0 0 0 0 4 4 HOU 27-34, TEX 31-30
June 11: Texas 3, Houston 2
It was a much closer affair the next day as J.R. Richard and Yu Darvish had a nice duel. Richard rung up a season-high 14 strikeouts but Darvish gave up just one run and handed a 2-1 lead to the Texas bullpen.
Neftali Feliz retired the first two Astros in the top of the ninth, but suddenly couldn’t locate the strike zone and walked the bases loaded. Craig Biggio then singled in the tying run, and Dickie Thon rounded third on the same play thinking he’d score the go-ahead run. Texas left fielder Al Oliver had other ideas and lasered a strike to Ivan Rodriguez at the plate to nail Thon and end the inning
Rodriguez wrapped up the game soon thereafter. Billy Wagner came in to face him leading off the bottom of the ninth, and I-Rod sent a Wagner fastball to the seats.
R H BB HOU 000 000 101 - 2 7 6 TEX 020 000 001 - 3 8 3 HR: I. Rodriguez (8) starters IP R ER HR BB SO J.R. Richard 8.0 2 2 0 3 14 Y. Darvish 7.0 1 1 0 2 8 HOU 27-35, TEX 32-30
June 12: Houston 11, Texas 1
The knuckler giveth, and the knuckler taketh away. Last time out, Charlie Hough’s knuckleball was dancing, but this time it came in straight and slow. The big Houston bats had a field day after getting frustrated in the first two games. Jeff Bagwell and Lance Berkman both went ya-ya in the first inning, and the rout was on. The Astros rung out seven extra base hits, and even Art Howe got in on the fun with his first dinger of the year. Bob Watson took a walk and smacked a single, a double, and a homer.
Roy Oswalt allowed the first Texas batter of the game a double and run scored, but totally shut down Texas the rest of his six innings, and Larry Anderson followed with three shutout innings.
The Rangers have now won eight of 11 games against the Astros.
R H BB HOU 401 120 102 - 11 13 7 TEX 100 000 000 - 1 5 2 HR: J. Bagwell (12), L. Berkman (14), B. Watson (9), A. Howe (1) starters IP R ER HR BB SO R. Oswalt 6.0 1 1 0 2 4 C. Hough 4.0 6 5 2 1 5 HOU 28-35, TEX 32-31