Apr 14, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Astros left fielder Yordan Alvarez (44) crosses home plate after hitting a home run to left field against the Texas Rangers during the third inning at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports
Alvarez, Maldonado homer, but Astros fall short against Rangers
The Astros dropped their first game against an American League West opponent with Friday’s 6-2 loss to the Texas Rangers at Minute Maid Park. Nathaniel Lowe collected a pair of hits and drove home three runs, while Adolis Garcia hit a two-run homer in support of Martín Peréz, who earned his second win. With the loss, the Astros fall behind the Rangers by 2.5 games for first place in the division.
Early walks hurt Luis Garcia
Garcia’s third start of the season got off in an inauspicious start when he walked Marcus Semien on four pitches, and after Josh Smith flied out to center field, Nathaniel Lowe doubled down the right field line to put Texas on top. He limited the damage to just the one run in the first and worked around a two-out triple in the second, but the Rangers staged a two-out rally against him in the third, and it started with a walk to Lowe, followed by Adolis Garcia smacking a 1-0 fastball 399 feet, just over the yellow line above the wall in left-center field.
The Astros right-hander struck out the side in the fourth, but the Rangers tagged him for two more runs in the fifth on Lowe’s bloop single over a drawn-in infield. Garcia allowed five runs over five innings, ending the team’s run of four straight starts of six innings or more, and he’s the team’s only starter who has failed to throw at least six innings in a start this season.
Yordan Alvarez and Martín Maldonado provide the offense
The Astros couldn’t muster much offense against Rangers starter Martín Peréz, but Yordan Alvarez gave the offense a boost when he dumped a first-pitch cutter into the Crawford Boxes for his fourth home run of the season, and he became the fastest player in franchise history to reach 300 RBI, doing so in his 380th game.
Maldonado brought the Astros within three runs when he slugged his first home run of 2023. The next two Astros reached, but Perez struck out Alvarez and then got Jose Abreu on a comebacker to wiggle out of trouble.
Perez allowed Kyle Tucker to reach to start the sixth, ending his night, and Dane Dunning stranded Tucker at second. Maldonado started the seventh inning with a double down the left field line, but he was left at third when former Astro Will Smith struck out Alvarez.
Smith struck out two in a 1-2-3 eighth inning, and Jose Leclerc retired the Astros in order in the ninth.
News and Notes:
•Jose Abreu failed to reach base for the first time this season.
•Mauricio Dubón finished 1-for-4 and is batting .378 on his current nine-game hitting streak.
•Former Astros outfielder Jose Cruz will be formally inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame on Saturday night in Waco. Cruz has spent 40 years in the Astros organization as a player, coach, and ambassador. His number 25 was retired by the organization in 1992.
•Three weeks removed from surgery to repair his fractured right thumb, Astros second baseman Jose Altuve is now wearing a splint on his thumb instead of a full forearm cast, but the team did not have an update on when he’ll be able to resume baseball activities.
•Chas McCormick was removed from the game in the third inning due to vision issues.
The Astros and Rangers will play the middle game of their three-game series on Saturday night with Hunter Brown (1-0) taking the mound opposite Jon Gray (1-1).