Texas Rangers

Rangers refuse to bow down to Astros, take two of three as they ‘took it to them’

The Texas Rangers are supposed to be the trash of the American League West.

The Houston Astros are supposed to be World Series contenders.

History, of course, makes fools out of those who draw early conclusions, but with six April games in the books between the Lone Star rivals, one thing seems abundantly clear:

The Rangers aren’t intimidated.

Texas roughed up another Astros starter for the second consecutive game to take the weekend series with an 11-10 win Sunday afternoon at Globe Life Park. The Rangers have won four of the first six games — all in Arlington.

It was Collin McHugh’s turn to take it on the chin. A day after Gerrit Cole allowed a career-high eight earned runs in 4 1/3 innings, McHugh was charged with a career-high nine earned runs and knocked out after 3 1/3.

It was the shortest of his five starts this season. In his first four starts he allowed five combined earned runs.

Just as they did on Saturday night, the Rangers struck early with three first-inning runs. Joey Gallo’s two-run triple scored Shin-Soo Choo and Elvis Andrus.

They added four more in the third, including back-to-back homers from Hunter Pence and Logan Forsythe.

They added three more in the fourth after Jeff Mathis and Delino DeShields started the inning with infield singles.

With one out, Danny Santana loaded the bases on a catcher’s interference call on Robinson Chirinos. Andrus’ two-run double gave the Rangers a 9-1 lead. Gallo’s first-career sacrifice fly scored Santana to make it 10-1.

“I think it’s something that was missing in previous years,” Andrus said of the team’s feisty offensive approach under first-year manager Chris Woodward.

“This year, it was a good idea from the coaching staff to have a game plan every time, especially when we’re facing this pitching staff. Nobody is panicking and doing their best and passing the baton.”

The Astros knocked Shelby Miller from the game with five runs in the sixth. Miller was charged with four runs (three earned) on five hits and two walks in 5 1/3. He earned his first win since April 18, 2017, when he was with Arizona.

After winning 10 in a row, the Astros have now lost three of their past four. They lost two of three in Arlington before starting the win streak.

The Rangers, meanwhile, have won six of their past seven as they embark on a seven-game road trip to Oakland and Seattle.

The first six games against the Astros have gone about as well as Woodward could have hoped. The offensive approach he has been preaching since spring training has proved to be effective, especially against Houston.

“It’s amazing. It’s a great start to the season,” Woodward said of the 4-2 start against Houston. “Both of [the series] were at home. I know they play well at home. When we get there, it’s obviously going to be a test.

“I like how our guys came out and executed a game plan and took it to them. They beat us both times in the first game, we came back, showed no quit and kind of took it to them.”

The 11 runs are the most allowed by the Astros since the Ranger scored 11 against them on July 27.

The Astros had five homers, including solo shots from Josh Reddick and Carlos Correa in the eighth off Brett Martin, and a solo homer from George Springer in the ninth off Jose Leclerc.

Leclerc walked the bases loaded and then walked in a run with a two-out walk to pinch-hitter Jose Altuve.

Shawn Kelley replaced Leclerc with the bases still loaded to face Chirinos. Kelley struck out the former Ranger to preserve the win.

“I think it’s just further proof that we’re buying into what we said in spring training, what Woody preached,” said Kelley, who earned his first save since June 2017 with the Nationals. “Whether it’s the offense, the defense, or a pitcher comes in in a big spot, we’ve picked each other up.

“We haven’t played perfect baseball by any means, but we’ve done a good job of picking guys up, whether we need some runs scored on offense or whether we need some big pitches to get out of a jam That’s what good teams do. It’s early, but if we can sustain that there’s a genuine belief in this locker room that we’re for real.”

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Stefan Stevenson has been covering sports for the Star-Telegram since 1997. He spent five years covering TCU athletics, which included two BCS bowls, two trips to the college World Series and the move to the Big 12. He has covered the Texas Rangers since 2014 and started reporting on the Dallas Cowboys in 2016.