ARLINGTON — Unstoppable force meets immovable object.
The immovable object: The Houston Astros, who were 30-0 when leading after seven in coming into Monday’s matchup with the Rangers and had given up just three runs or less in seven of the first eight games between the two clubs this season.
The unstoppable force prevailed, as the Rangers scored three runs in the eighth inning to complete the comeback and defeat the Astros, 5-3, at Globe Life Field to open the three-game set.
It was just the sixth game the Rangers have won this season without hitting a home run.
“It was a lot of good stuff,” said designated hitter Brad Miller. “It’s not necessarily the big, flashy stuff but a lot of solid stuff, finding a way to beat the other team. It would have been a lot easier if we hit a home run, but you’re not going to have it every day, especially with these guys from the other team on the mound. You just have to find a way to win.”
That’s exactly what the Rangers did.
Despite falling into an early 3-0 deficit in the second inning, Rangers starter Taylor Hearn shut down the Astros from then on. Houston went just 1-for-11 with three walks against Hearn after the second inning, leaving just enough room for the Texas offense to strike back.
The Rangers scored a run on a sacrifice fly from Kole Calhoun in the third inning and another on an RBI single from García in the seventh, setting up the eighth inning that would put them ahead for good.
“Taylor did a great job, and [the Astros have] a great lineup,” Miller said. “He kept it to three and obviously, the bullpen came in and did what they’ve been doing. The Astros kind of had the momentum, and the pitchers did a great job of keeping it right there and giving us time to string something together.”
The eighth-inning sequence involved everything that manager Chris Woodward and the hitting coaches have focused all season — from taking walks, stealing bases to taking what the pitching and defense is giving you. The Rangers’ offense features several home run hitters, and while that no doubt helps, they can manufacture runs just as well.
The eighth began with a leadoff single from catcher Jonah Heim, who was then replaced by Charlie Culberson, who promptly stole second as the pinch-runner. A groundout by Nathaniel Lowe moved Culberson to third, and rookie Ezequiel Duran delivered a game-tying RBI single.
A go-ahead single from Miller — at just a 66 mph exit velocity that beat the shift — would secure a win for the Rangers.
In the seventh and eighth innings, the Rangers put up four runs on six hits after scoring just one run on five hits in the first six frames. Only one of Texas’ 11 hits went for extra bases (a double by Duran in the fourth).
“That was fun,” Woodward said. “It was just good baseball. Obviously, getting that leadoff guy on base [in the eighth], We didn’t waste any time. [Lowe] had a good baseball play to get [Culberson] over to third base. And then the kid [Duran] comes up with zero fear [to tie the game]and he steals second as well.
“The whole thing played out exactly the way you draw it up. If we’re going to be an offense, we don’t have to always hit a home run. We don’t always have to hit an extra-base hit or slug. This kind of offense, the style — like Miller hitting a backside single where the shift isn’t — it’s fun.”