There are only so many ways to dance around the term "ugly win," but that is exactly what the Rangers experienced Saturday night in Houston. While the Rangers continue to pressure opponents with aggressive baserunning and sound fundamentals, the Astros continue to make manager Bo Porter the most sympathetic figure in the league.
The Astros bullpen has the highest ERA in the American League by nearly an entire run, as well as the most blown saves. Saturday, the Astros woeful pen found new and exciting ways to surrender a lead.
After striking out in his first three at-bats against Astros starter Brad Peacock, Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus stepped to the plate in the seventh inning and tied the game with a two-run home run off reliever Kevin Chapman—his first of the season and his first in his last 558 at-bats.
The Astros showed some resiliency, scoring a go-ahead run in the bottom of the seventh. It would be the final bright spot of the evening for Porter and his young team.
Alex Rios, making his Rangers debut, tied the game with an RBI triple in the eighth. It looked like a well-hit single to center until Astros center fielder Brandon Barnes made an ill-advised diving attempt, allowing the ball to roll to the wall.
Rios scored the eventual winning run on an error by Astros catcher Jason Castro. Rios broke for home on Mitch Moreland's ground ball to the right side of a drawn-in infield. The throw was made to Castro in plenty of time, but Rios jarred the ball loose with a hard slide at the plate.
The Rangers have now won 11 of their last 12 games and overcome a six-game deficit to jump ahead of Oakland for the first time in over a month and do not face a team with a winning record until Labor Day. They will send Martin Perez to the mound Sunday, as they attempt to win the four-game series with Houston.
The Astros will attempt to battle, learn and look ahead to a future that has to be brighter than their current predicament. In the meantime, they will continue to piece together the best effort they can muster with a bullpen that has seen its share of disappointment. And Bo Porter will continue to look like a guy in serious need of a hug.