Saturday night's Rangers-Astros game was one of the weirdest exhibitions of baseball we've seen around Arlington in a while.
The five hit batters by Astros' pitchers was a club record for both Houston pitchers and Texas batters. According to baseball-reference.com, only one other team since 1908 has won a game when its pitchers have hit five or more batters: The Angels against the Athletics on June 7, 2001.
At least we kept it in the American League Wild Weird West.
Astros' starter Charlie Morton had four of the five HBPs, which ties an American League record. He became the first major league pitcher to allow 11 or more baserunners while also allowing one or zero hits in a game since the Brewers' Everett Stull did it in a start on April 29, 2000 against the Astros.
More weirdness from Saturday night:
1. Morton's command — Morton had command issues from the start and was done after 3 2/3 innings. He did a lot in his brief outing. Morton walked six and hit four batters, including Jurickson Profar twice. The last A.L. pitcher to hit four batters was the White Sox's Orlando Hernandez against the Indians on June 3, 2005. Morton came into Saturday's game with just four hit batters in 13 starts this season and no more than one in a game. Morton had twice hit three batters in a game, the last coming in June 2014.
"He's always like that. A lot of times he controls his pitches, but it's always moving," Profar said. "Tonight, he didn't control it very well, but his pitches are always tough. For me, he's the toughest pitcher I've faced this year."
2. Choo's streak — Shin-Soo Choo's fifth inning walk stretch his on-base streak to 25 games. It's the longest active streak in the majors and is tied for the third longest in the A.L. this season. The Tigers' Jeimer Candelario's 28-game streak is the longest of 2018. Choo walked three times on Saturday and leads the team and is fifth in the A.L. with 41 walks.
3. What gives? — Rangers hitters had been hit four times in a game eight times, the last coming April 12, 2015 against the Astros. Technically, it probably should have been six hit batters on Saturday. Profar, who was hit by a pitch in the first and second innings, also was hit on Ball 4 in the eighth but it appeared as if homeplate umpire Sam Holbrook ruled it a ball and not a hit by pitch. Replays appeared to show that the pitch hit Profar on the foot. Profar said he was hit after the game. None of them hurt, however. "They were sliders," he said.
4. In Minor's defense — Delino DeShields made two outstanding sliding catches on balls near the track in the right-center gap that helped Mike Minor hold the Astros to three runs over the six innings. Nomar Mazara also made an excellent throw from right field to nail Yuli Gurriel trying to stretch a single into a double in the sixth. After allowing two runs in the first, Minor was able to settle down and he thanked his defense for that.
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"I just stayed calm. I mean, it's kinda been happening a lot lately," Minor said of the early runs. "I knew if I could keep battling I could get through it and get a quality start. Delino and Maz contributed to that. If I didn't have those guys it could have gotten ugly out there."
DeShields first highlight reel catch kept Marwin Gonzalez off the bases to start the second by erasing a sure double. In the third, DeShields raced down Jose Altuve's shot in the gap that ended the inning and prevented George Springer from scoring.
"It's great because you're automatically thinking it's in the gap, it's a double or a triple or something and then he catches it and the momentum kind of shifts back in our dugout," Minor said.
5. Walks off — Rangers' pitchers walked three batters on Saturday to extend their club-record streak to 20 consecutive games with three or fewer walks in a game. It's the longest such stretch in the majors in 2018 and longest for any club since the Nationals did it in 21 consecutive games from June 16 to July 10, 2015. The previous longest such stretch by Texas was 18 games from June 18 to July 7, 2011.