A.J. Hinch and the Astros spent parts of the weekend answering questions why they have had such little success against the Texas Rangers in the past two seasons. Monday night they took a step in turning the page, rallying for five runs in the seventh inning and claiming a 6-2 win over their intrastate rivals.
Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa each had run scoring doubles in the frame that turned a 2-1 deficit into a 6-2 advantage and eventual win.
Any victory against the Rangers is noteworthy, especially after the 2016 season where Texas won 15 of the 19 meetings.
Can one win change the course of a one-sided rivalry?
“Any time you get a win against a division opponent it is a big deal,” said manager A.J. Hinch. “It is obviously nice to start this series off with a win at home against a team that we want to beat. What it does for us, I think has to play itself out. Then we look back on these type of moments and call them big one way or the other. We didn’t really didn’t need a defining moment. We have been fighting for a month. We have been playing really well for a month. We didn’t be woken up. We didn’t need to stand up and fight for ourselves. We needed to play another good game and we got a win.”
The Astros and Rangers nearly fought in the sixth inning when Lance McCullers Jr. fired a fastball behind the neck of Rangers first baseman Mike Napoli who had homered in the previous at bat to put Texas up 2-1. The benches and bullpens cleared but no punches were thrown. The interruption did however ratchet up the energy in the ballpark.
McCullers Jr. said he was trying to go in hard with the pitch and missed.
When asked what Napoli said to McCullers between the plate and mound Lance said, “He (Napoli) said I smelled good. ‘I said I got some new cologne if you want to come smell it. You can smell it.’ That was it.”
The Rangers were already aware of a tweet Alex Bregman sent out earlier in the day that said, “Operation #BTSOOTR.”
In addition to admitting a spelling error Bregman walked back the social media snafu.
“I made a rookie mistake,” he said. “I shouldn’t have tweeted that out. It was more of just trying to fire up our team and I shouldn’t have put it on social media at all. They have a great team over there. I didn’t mean to offend anybody over there. As you can see it is a fun game every time we play them. They had our number last year. This year is new year, but just a rookie mistake.”
The victory was also Houston’s 11th come from behind win, the most in the majors and improved the Astros to 13-4 vs A.L. West foes.
Game two of the four-game set takes place Tuesday night at Minute Maid. Mike Fiers (0-1 5.12) will start for Houston (17-9) against Cole Hamels (2-0 3.03).
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