The margin between winning and losing a major-league game is paper thin sometimes. And it typically comes down to a play or two.
That play came in the eighth inning Friday night at Minute Maid Park when Drew Robinson misplayed a single to center by Marwin Gonzalez, which allowed the Astros to score the go-ahead run. Robinson was charging the ball and it bounced passed his glove and deep into center field. Pinch-runner Derek Fisher scored from first and Gonzalez made it to third.
"I just muffed it," Robinson said. "We are taught to take a look at the runner early. I took my look, then went for the ball and missed it. I didn't do anything wrong, I just muffed it."
You could argue that Robinson didn't need to attack so fast. Fisher was stopping at third base until the ball got passed Robinson. Robinson had little to no shot at throwing Fisher out at third anyway.
"Drew was really trying to make an aggressive play, coming hard after a ball trying to keep a runner from scoring," manager Jeff Banister said. "I’m never going to fault our guys in a physical situation like that. Sometimes it happens that way."
The Rangers had a shot to tie or take the lead in the ninth but Chris Devenski struck out three, including Robinson and Isiah Kiner-Falefa with runners on first and second to end the game.
Here's the reaction from a 3-2 loss in Houston:
1. Guzman's debut — Ronald Guzman was called up and started his first major-league game on Friday. The 23-year-old went 1 for 3. He singled to right on an 0-2 pitch in the ninth for his first major-league hit. It was an impressive bit of hitting against Astros' closer Chris Devenski. Guzman went down and served the ball into right, just as he's been billed. Isiah Kiner-Falefa also made his first major-league start and collected his first hit with a single to left in the third inning.
Guzman, who was hitting .412 in five games at Triple-A Round Rock, looked at ease in the batter's box. He worked a walk in the fifth against Astros' starter Garrit Cole, who struck out 14. It's a relief for both to get the first one out of the way.
"Yeah, definitely. It’s always good, even opening day in Triple-A, so you can just keep going," Guzman said. "Today, I was just trying to get my first at-bat out of the way and then after that battle pitch by pitch. Gerrit Cole is not a fun guy to face but it was good."
Indeed, Guzman jumped on the first pitch he saw in the majors and flew out to left in the second inning.
Earlier in the day, Guzman was seeing a long-held dream come true when he joined the Rangers for the first time.
"Obviously, it’s my dream to be here. I feel ready for the opportunity," he said. "I'm not very happy about how I got here. Elvis [Andrus] is one of my favorite guys. I hope he gets back real quick."
Guzman was almost called up a week ago when Rougned Odor's wife gave birth to their first child early Sunday morning. Guzman was in Arlington in case Odor chose to go on paternity leave. He didn't and Guzman went back down to Round Rock. Odor, however, strained his left hamstring in Monday's game and placed on the disabled list.
2. Hamels vs. Springer — Cole Hamels had his best start of the season but didn't factor in the decision after allowing two runs (on two solo homers to George Springer) in six innings. Hamels struck out seven, walked two and allowed six hits. It's the first time Hamels has gone at least six innings. Now, if he could just start putting Springer on, perhaps he'd fare better. Hamels tried to make light of the fact that Springer's three homers this season have come against him, including two on the first pitch Hamels threw in the game. (Springer also did it on Opening Day in Arlington.)
"Springer is planning to have whatever type of [breakout] season but it’s not going to be a good one because I don’t get to pitch to him enough," Hamels joked. "If he's planning on hitting his only home runs off me, I’m only going to face him a certain amount of games."
Hamels' best explanation for Springers' success against him, besides Springer fast-becoming one of the best hitters in the game, is how well the Astros know his tendencies.
"I'm trying to throw strikes early; I think they know that over there," he said.
3. Delino DeShields — was walking around the clubhouse before Friday's game wearing batting gloves and holding a bat. The outfielder has hopes of returning to action on April 20. He conceded that it will probably be in a minor-league rehab game but he'll take it. DeShields broke the hamate bone in his left hand in the second game of the season and was given a four to six-week timetable for his return. DeShields, however, has said he'll make it back in three weeks. DeShields took some dry swings before Friday's game and was hoping to hit off a tee. He was cleared by hand specialist Dr. Thomas DiLiberti to start doing some light swings.
"I'm feeling strong enough to hold a bat in my hand so I’m just kind of walking around with it," he said. "I don't want to rush it. It's a good start.
4. Bartolo — Bartolo Colon makes his second start of the season on Sunday. He's allowed two earned runs in 11 innings, including a run in six innings in his lone start at Oakland on April 2. He's twice pitched out of the bullpen since the start, allow a run over five combined innings. Colon, 44, said working out of the bullpen is fine with him as long as he's given advanced warning. With another solid start, however, he could force his way into the rotation full time.
"I feel great about it," Colon said of returning to the rotation. "I think I’ve had more fun the last four or five years."