Texas Rangers

Dealing aces: Hamels outshines Verlander as Rangers take opener, 1-0

Cole Hamels outduels Justin Verlander

Cole Hamels outdueled Justin Verlander in Friday's 1-0 win
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Cole Hamels outdueled Justin Verlander in Friday's 1-0 win

Forget the records and the recent history.

None of it mattered and none of it will seem to ever matter when the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros meet on the diamond.

On Friday night, the last-place Rangers looked every bit the equal of their American League West rivals, despite the Astros' 2017 World Series pennant still sparkling atop the railroad tracks in left field at Minute Maid Park.

"If you like pitching ..." Rangers manager Jeff Banister said, after Cole Hamels outdueled Justin Verlander

Rangers starting pitcher Cole Hamels looked like he was in the middle of one of his Phillies playoff runs, facing off against Astros ace Justin Verlander, who very much remains one of the league's most dominating pitchers.

Hamels and the Rangers' bullpen held the Astros to one hit as Texas won the opener 1-0. It's the fewest hits for the Astros in 2018 and the first time the Rangers have shutout the Astros since 2014. The Astros hadn't been held to one hit since Aug. 20, 2015.

Hamels at one time was arguably one of the top pitchers in the league — at least during his MVP run to lead the Phillies to the 2008 World Series title — but he has since been battling a perception that he's past his prime.

That perception took a hit Friday night as Hamels battled Verlander pitch for pitch through six innings. Verlander left the game after loading the bases with no outs in the seventh. Jurickson Profar, facing reliever Chris Devenski, gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead with a sacrifice fly to left on an 0-2 pitch that scored Nomar Mazara.

Devenski struck out Rougned Odor and Robinson Chirinos to end the inning and limit Texas to the single run.

Hamels worked inside and hit two batters, including George Springer, who later left the game with a left elbow contusion, but it was an effective strategy for the left-hander. He didn't didn't allow a hit until Evan Gattis led off the fifth with a seeing-eye single through the left side. It was the only hit he allowed in six innings. He also walked three and threw 100 pitches in six innings.

The lead-off batter reached base in four of his six innings but Hamels consistently worked out of the mini jams with the help of double plays in the first and sixth innings. Hamels has yet to go more than 6 1/3 innings in a game this season but it's hard to quibble with his latest outing.

In the eighth, Jose Leclerc replaced Jake Diekman after a leadoff walk and retired the side, stranding Josh Reddick at second base. Ronald Guzman made an especially spectacular, over-the-shoulder catch for the final out of the inning. Guzman had to race deep down the right-field line and made the catch with his back to the infield, just inside fair territory.

Diekman, Leclerc and Keone Kela, who earned the save in the ninth, combined to hold the Astros hitless the final three innings.

The fewest hits the Astros have had in a game in 2018 is three, which they've been held to three times, the last coming April 16 at Seattle.

Rangers 1, Astros 0

Texas

000

000

100

1

5

1

Houston

000

000

000

0

1

1

Texas<QM>

AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

DeShields cf

4

0

1

0

0

0

.295

Choo dh

4

0

1

0

0

1

.245

Mazara rf

4

1

2

0

0

1

.299

Beltre 3b

3

0

0

0

1

2

.323

Gallo lf

3

0

0

0

1

0

.208

Profar ss

3

0

1

1

0

0

.223

Odor 2b

3

0

0

0

0

2

.189

Chirinos c

3

0

0

0

0

3

.180

Guzman 1b

3

0

0

0

0

2

.200



Houston<QM>

AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Springer cf

0

0

0

0

1

0

.296

Marisnick cf

1

0

0

0

0

0

.148

Fisher ph-cf

1

0

0

0

0

1

.190

Altuve 2b

4

0

0

0

0

0

.323

Correa ss

2

0

0

0

2

1

.292

Gurriel 1b

4

0

0

0

0

1

.273

Bregman 3b

2

0

0

0

1

0

.255

Gonzalez lf

4

0

0

0

0

1

.240

McCann c

4

0

0

0

0

2

.250

Gattis dh

3

0

1

0

0

1

.196

Reddick rf

2

0

0

0

1

1

.228



E—Beltre (5), McCann (1). LOB—Texas 5, Houston 7. 2B—Mazara (7), Profar (8). RBIs—Profar (15). SB—Gonzalez (1). CS—DeShields (2). SF—Profar. Runners left in scoring position—Texas 3 (Mazara, Chirinos 2); Houston 3 (Altuve, Correa, McCann). RISP—Texas 0 for 5; Houston 0 for 3. Runners moved up—Marisnick, Altuve. GIDP—Altuve, Bregman. DP—Texas 2 (Profar, Odor, Guzman), (Profar, Odor, Guzman).

Texas

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

NP

ERA

Hamels, W, 2-4

6

1

0

0

3

5

100

3.48

Diekman, H, 5

1

0

0

0

1

1

18

3.86

Leclerc, H, 2

1

0

0

0

0

1

12

2.02

Kela, S, 8-8

1

0

0

0

1

1

17

4.80

Houston

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

NP

ERA

Verlander, L, 4-2

6

3

1

1

2

7

101

1.21

Devenski

1

0

0

0

0

2

12

1.12

McHugh

<AF>1/3

2

0

0

0

0

10

0.66

Sipp

<AF>2/3

0

0

0

0

1

8

5.14

Rondon

1

0

0

0

0

1

12

1.93

Verlander pitched to 3 batters in the 7th. Diekman pitched to 1 batter in the 8th. Inherited runners-scored—Leclerc 1-0, Devenski 3-1, Sipp 2-0. HBP—Hamels 2 (Bregman,Springer). WP—Sipp. Umpires—Home, Greg Gibson; First, Jansen Visconti; Second, Jordan Baker; Third, Jerry Layne. T—3:08. A—34,297 (41,168).

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