Matt Harrison

Recapping the opening week Silver Boot Series betwen the Rangers and Astros

The opening night of the baseball season came to an exciting start for the Astros and their fans as a young, overachieving team dominated the Rangers, a potential playoff team. The Astros lit up Rangers southpaw, Matt Harrison, scoring six runs off him in less than six innings. Bud Norris looked to be in midseason form, allowing two earned runs in 5 2/3 innings and Erik Bedard channeled his 2007 self, shutting the door by allowing but one hit over the final 3 1/3 innings. The Astros looked like a team poised to shock to baseball world, but perhaps the Rangers just had a terrible game or the Astros just severely overachieved because the next two games exemplified baseball’s polar effect.

The Rangers proceeded to win the series by giving up seven total hits to the Astros over the next 18 innings, quelling the worry of troubled Rangers fans still scarred by the loss of Josh Hamilton. Yu Darvish and Alexi Ogando proceeded to completely shut down the strikeout-prone Astros offense, as the Rangers staff K’ed 30 Astros hitters shut them out in consecutive games. In the series, the Astros also managed to break the record for the most strikeouts by a team in its first three games of the season, with 43.

Not all was bad for the Astros during the series, though. Some of the positives taken from the three games were the emergence of consistent starting pitching and the continuation of Jose Altuve’s consistency. After Bud Norris' solid performance in the series opener, Lucas Harrell held the Rangers to one earned run and six hits in the second game. In game three, Phillip Humber allowed one earned in 5 2/3 innings. In addition, Altuve is hitting .417 and gives fans hope for the Astros to send a worthy player to the All-Star game. In order to get back on track the Astros clearly have to get more disciplined at the plate (especially the middle of the lineup) and the bullpen cannot continue causing all quality starts by Astros starters to be all for naught.

For the Rangers, former Astros great and member of the “Killer B’s,” Lance Berkman, returned to Houston to pester his former team. He went 6-for-10 over the three-game series with three RBIs. Everyone knows about Yu Darvish’s 8 2/3 perfect innings and Marwin Gonzalez, a career .236 hitter, knocking a single up the middle to dash all hopes of history being made in Houston on opening week. Twitter exploded with clever puns like, “Yu mad?” and “Yu can’t always get what Yu want.” Others, such as sportswriter, Bill Simmons, stated his blunt outlook on the Astros future – “Don't worry, we'll get to see someone throw a perfect game against the Astros this season.” In order for the Rangers to return to the playoffs, others in the lineup have to make up for the offensive loss of Josh Hamilton and Matt Harrison, Derek Holland and Colby Lewis need to return to form and become more consistent.

MLB Playoffs

Miguel Cabrera hits a solo home run in the seventh inning of a 5-2 win against the Rangers in game three of the ALCS.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

DETROIT — Doug Fister delivered another strong start in a game Detroit needed and Miguel Cabrera homered and hit a tiebreaking double to lead the Tigers past the Texas Rangers 5-2 Tuesday night in Game 3 of the AL championship series.

Detroit dropped the first two games in Texas before turning to Fister, who won the decisive fifth game of the division series at Yankee Stadium last week. He was sharp again, allowing two runs and seven hits with no walks in 7 1-3 innings.

Jose Valverde, after pitching a season-high two innings the day before, worked around a leadoff double in the ninth for his third playoff save. He got some help from Cabrera, who made a diving play at first base.

“It’s going to be a long series,” Cabrera said. “Nobody (said) it’s going to be easy. You’ve got to be patient.”

Game 4 is Wednesday afternoon. Matt Harrison starts for Texas against Rick Porcello — both went 14-9 this season.
Cabrera’s double in the fifth put the Tigers ahead 2-1 and he added a towering solo homer in the seventh.

Victor Martinez and Jhonny Peralta also went deep for the Tigers. Austin Jackson broke out of his postseason slump with three hits, including an RBI single.

Texas right-hander Colby Lewis, who entered 4-0 in five postseason starts, allowed four runs and eight hits in 5 2-3 innings. He struck out six and walked two.

“He throws strikes and every now and then he’s going to give up some long balls. I thought it was a pretty good ballgame,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “He kept us in the ballgame. It was Fister that did the job out there tonight.”

Detroit provided more than enough offense for Fister, who was terrific down the stretch after the Tigers acquired him in a trade with Seattle shortly before the July 31 deadline. He retired his final batter Tuesday on an unusual unassisted putout, fielding Endy Chavez’s grounder and then hustling over to first because Cabrera was well off the bag, trying to position himself for a potential play on the ball.

Printed on Thursday, October 13, 2011 as: Cruz delivers for Rangers in extras