Texas Rangers

Rangers, Astros heating up Silver Boot Series with kick-stomping games

The home runs kept flying at Globe Life Park Saturday night.

The Texas Rangers and Houston Astros have combined for 13 homers in the past two games, including four Saturday in the Rangers’ 7-6 loss to the Astros in 11 innings.

“It sucks,” said Delino DeShields, who tied the game with a home run in the seventh. “We played out tails off against a really good team. Obviously, these games are really important right now so you want to get all of them that you can.”

The Silver Boot Series hasn’t been this tight in a while. The Astros hold a 7-6 advantage with six games remaining, including Sunday’s series finale.

The teams meet for a three-game series at Minute Maid Park in Houston beginning Friday.

The last time the Silver Boot was this close was 2014 when the Rangers took it 11-8. Both teams lost more than 90 games that season.

Shin-Soo Choo ties Carlton Fisk, David Eckstein

Choo was it hit by Astros’ starter Wade Miley after Delino DeShields’ solo homer in the seventh tied the game at 5-5. It’s the 143rd time Choo has been hit by a pitch in his career. That ties him for 24th all-time with Carlton Fisk and David Eckstein. Choo needs three more HBPs to pass Jose Guillen for 23rd all-time. The modern-day leader in HBPs is the Astros’ Craig Biggio, who finished his career with 285.

Minor concern after second consecutive rough start

Mike Minor only went five innings Saturday. He only went 4 1/3 in his previous start on July 2, before the All-Star break. Minor was charged with four runs, the most he’s allowed since April 22. Minor threw 92 pitches so the quick hook is understandable.

“I’ve pitched like [crap] the last two times. I feel like there are lapses in there in focus or something,” he said. “I am not throwing the put-away pitch. I feel like I served them up a little bit tonight. I hate feeling like this, but I look forward to getting back out there.”

Minor allowed three runs on two hits and four walks on July 2 and came out because he was at 110 pitches with one out in the fifth.

Adrian Sampson comes up big in relief

Adrian Sampson was called upon to clean up Phillips Valdez mess in the sixth inning. Valdez had started the inning but the Astros had the bases loaded with one out after two singles and a walk. Sampson got a potential double-play ball to third but and error by Logan Forsythe allowed a run to score. Sampson struck out Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman to end the inning.

Sampson pitched in consecutive games for the first time in his career.

“The job our bullpen did was incredible,” Rangers’ manager Chris Woodward said. “What Sampson did there, after going back to back, how many innings he was able to go after pitching yesterday. We asked a lot of our guys today and a lot of guys stepped up and kept the game where it was.”

In the eighth, a two-out triple by Jake Marisnick put the go-ahead run at third. Sampson escaped, however, after forcing George Springer to fly out to right on a nine-pitch at-bat. Sampson held Houston scoreless on one hit over 2 2/3 innings.

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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.