The Texas Rangers have feasted on the Houston Astros for half a decade, including a 36-7 record in head-to-head meetings since 2009 before this season began.
On Monday night at Globe Life Park, however, the Astros were the ones licking their chops.
Last-place Houston, which trailed the Rangers by three games in the AL West entering Monday’s game, struck early for a big lead and piled on for a 12-7 win in front of 31,010.
The Astros jumped on Rangers starter Miles Mikolas for nine runs on 12 hits in just 3 1/3 innings. Most of the damage came in the second inning when Houston, which had lost its previous seven games, batted around.
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The Astros scored six runs on seven hits as the first five hitters singled before Marwin Gonzalez’s bases-clearing triple to the right-center field gap made it 6-0. Mikolas recovered to force a popout and then struck out George Springer and Jon Singleton, who started the inning with a single to right.
“It wasn’t quality [pitches],” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “[Mikolas] left too many out over the plate. You have to throw quality strikes, and that one inning they just found a way to put the ball in play and hit the grass out there. And then Gonzalez’s [triple] was the big blow.”
The Rangers cut the deficit to 6-2 with single runs in the second and third innings, but Singleton’s three-run, 425-foot homer to right-center pushed the Astros’ lead back to 9-2. It was the last pitch of the night for Mikolas, who was making his second career start.
“You have a base open,” Washington said. “You certainly don’t want to give him a meat fastball, not that he tried. He tried to get the ball inside on him and left it out. If you execute the pitch right there, different story. Those are the things he has to learn.”
The Rangers (38-51) have lost eight of their last nine and are in danger of falling into last place in the division, a spot the Astros (37-54) have occupied since moving to the American League two years ago.
The Astros collected 17 hits, the seventh time this season Rangers’ pitchers have allowed 17 or more hits in a game.
Texas pulled within 9-6 after Elvis Andrus’ bases-loaded, two-out double down the left-field line in the fourth and Adrian Beltre’s solo homer in the fifth.
But again, the Astros countered with a solo shot from Alex Presley off Scott Baker in the sixth and added two more runs in the eighth on Singleton’s double and L.J. Hoes’ sacrifice fly.
The Rangers scored an unearned run in the bottom of the second to make it 6-1.
Andrus erased a leadoff single from Shin-Soo Choo in the third after hitting into his major league-leading 16th double play, tying him with teammate Alex Rios. Rios and Beltre followed with consecutive doubles to cut the deficit to 6-2. Rios’ single scored Andrus in the bottom of the ninth to make it 12-7.
“They’ve been putting runs on the board,” Washington said of his offense. “We just haven’t been able to stop the other team. We just have to get back to pitching better because I do think if our pitching can give our offense a chance, we’ll start putting enough runs on the board to win some games.
“Two days in a row we’re behind right away. They never stopped fighting. You put seven on the board tonight and that should be good enough to win a ballgame. We just couldn’t stop them.”
Although they scored seven runs, the Rangers offense struggled at times against the Astros bullpen. During a stretch late in the game, seven consecutive Rangers struck out, tying a 2008 club record.The Astros lead the season series with the Rangers 4-3.