Texas Rangers

Astros' dominant rotation keeps Rangers' bats at bay

Adrian Beltre on re-aggravating hamstring injury

Adrian Beltre could be headed for the DL again after re-aggravating a hamstring injury in a May 13 game against the Astros.
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Adrian Beltre could be headed for the DL again after re-aggravating a hamstring injury in a May 13 game against the Astros.

The Houston Astros will be a post-season player again in 2018.

The defending World Series champions are still loaded with a potent lineup and should compete for the most wins in the American League. Their everyday lineup is still arguably the best in baseball.

But now, in '18, they have arguably the most fearsome starting rotation in the game.

Reliever Brandon Mann talks about his major league debut with the Texas Rangers.

Ace Justin Verlander, who joined Houston at the end of August via a trade with the Tigers, gives the Astros five dominant arms, including Dallas Keuchel, who won the Cy Young award in 2015.

Keuchel took his turn stifling the Rangers' offense on Sunday as the Astros won the series finale 6-1 at Minute Maid Park.

The Rangers have an off-day before playing a two-game series in Seattle beginning Tuesday.

Keuchel has taken a back seat behind Verlander, Saturday's winner Charlie Morton, Lance McCullers and Gerrit Cole, the former two-time first-round draft pick who joined the Astros' staff after five seasons with the Pirates in a January trade.

All he has done is go 4-1 with a 1.43 ERA with a league-leading 86 strikeouts.

But Keuchel showed again on Sunday his Cy Young pedigree. He held the Rangers to three hits in seven innings to earn the win. He had a season-high eight strikeouts and allowed just two base runners into scoring position.

The Rangers struck out 39 times in the three-game series and lead the majors with 424 this season.

Carlos Perez's solo homer in the eighth against Hector Rondon was it for the Texas offense.

Rangers' starter Matt Moore left after allowing three runs on six hits and three walks in three innings. All three came in the second when Houston rallied after a lead-off walk by Alex Bregman.

Yuli Gurriel's RBI single scored Bregman, and Evan Gattis' two-run homer made it 3-0.

"He’s fine," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said after being asked if Moore was physically fine or if his 72 pitch count had gone too high. "We’re trying to win baseball games. We need to stay in the game. It was a situation where we wanted to make a change to keep the game close so we had an opportunity."

Jesse Chavez, who started the fourth, did just that. He held the Astros hitless and struck out four in three innings of relief.

"I'm not the manager. And I know [Banister's] got his job to do, and he's been pretty damn good at it," said Moore, who dropped to 1-5. "Maybe he thought the game was going to be kept better going with the bullpen, we've got a pretty fresh bullpen with the day off. I felt like I was going to hang up a few zeroes right there. But at the same time, I think that's a part of the player-managerial stuff. Our job is to play and his job is to tap us on the shoulder when we're done."

The Astros added three runs in the seventh, including a two-run homer by Carlos Correa against Kevin Jespen.

Reliever Brandon Mann, who was called up from Triple-A Round Rock before Sunday's game, made his major league debut. He took over for Jepsen and allowed one hit in 1 2/3 innings.

Brad Peacock struck out the side in the ninth for the Astros.

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