Improving Rangers chase another win over slumping Astros

The expectation was that Marcus Semien and Corey Seager, the biggest fish in Texas’ free agency spending spree during the offseason, eventually would find their footing for the Rangers.

That both delivered in the same inning of the Rangers’ 6-2 comeback victory over the visiting Houston Astros on Monday qualified as excellent timing.

Texas claimed the opener of a four-game series with its in-state rival after Semien and Seager produced run-scoring hits in the seventh inning, helping Texas erase what was a one-run deficit entering the frame.

The duo finished a combined 3-for-8 with two runs, two walks and two RBIs. Seager was one of four Rangers to record a multi-hit game in support of a pitching staff that is making strides.

“We’re starting to play good on both sides,” Seager said. “It starts with pitching.”

After Texas limited the Oakland Athletics to three runs on 10 hits over the course of a three-game weekend series, five Rangers pitchers held the Astros to eight hits and three walks in the series opener. Texas has surrendered just 11 runs while winning four of the past five games.

“Just working on your chemistry,” Seager said. “There’s a lot of good guys in there. Everybody just getting together and getting behind each other and trusting that we can do it.”

Texas left-hander Taylor Hearn (0-1, 7.59 ERA) will make his fourth start of the season on Tuesday. He did not factor into the decision in his latest outing, an 8-6 win over the Mariners on Thursday, after allowing five runs on five hits and four walks with four strikeouts over three innings. All of Seattle’s runs off of Hearn came in the first inning.

Hearn is 0-3 with an 8.39 ERA in his past six starts dating back to last season.

In seven career games (two starts) against the Astros, Hearn is 2-0 with a 1.53 ERA and a .177 opponents’ batting average. It’s the only opponent against which he has multiple wins.

Right-hander Jake Odorizzi (0-2, 9.00 ERA) has the starting assignment for the Astros on Tuesday. He failed to escape the first inning of his most recent start, allowing six runs (three earned) on two hits and four walks while recording two outs against the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday.

Odorizzi has more walks (seven) than strikeouts (five) and has thrown just nine innings in three starts this season.

Odorizzi is 4-1 with a 3.41 ERA over 12 career appearances (11 starts) against the Rangers. He did not record a decision in four games (three starts) against Texas last season while producing a 3.00 ERA with 15 strikeouts against just two walks over 15 innings.

After left-hander Framber Valdez produced a resilient effort over six innings on Monday, the Astros’ bullpen faltered down the stretch, allowing five runs on seven hits and one walk over two innings.

With closer Ryan Pressly (knee) on the injured list and roles a bit askew, Houston is giving rookies Parker Mushinski and Ronel Blanco chances to pitch high-leverage innings.

“We have to depend on everybody,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “We’re giving some guys some opportunities. Hopefully, they capitalize on it.”

The plan was unsuccessful on Monday, though. Mushinski faced four batters in the eighth, leaving with two on and two outs. Blanco took over and issued a walk before serving up a three-run double to Adolis Garcia.

The bullpen problems helped send Houston to a fifth loss in six games.

–Field Level Media

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