BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

The Houston Astros completed a three game sweep of the Texas Rangers Sunday afternoon.  The sweep extended the Rangers’ losing streak to seven games, a season high, while extending the Astros winning streak to five games.  Houston leads the season series 12 games to five, so has won this year’s Silver Boot trophy.

A series sweep was improbable as the Rangers had their top two starters available to start games one and three, while Houston was scrambling for two spot starters after Justin Verlander pitched the opening game.  Despite the starting pitching scramble, Houston was extremely dominating in this series.  Texas never held a lead in any of the three games.  Texas batters struck out 41 times with a double digit total in each game.  Houston held the Rangers to seven runs total in the series.

In Friday’s opener, Minor gave up a home run to Yuli Gurriel in the second inning.  In the third inning, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Yordan Alvarez hit back-to-back-to back home runs to extend the Astros’ lead to 4-0.

Verlander and three relievers made those runs hold up for a 4-3 win.  Rougned Odor and Asdrubal Cabrera hit solo home runs in the Rangers’ sixth, and Elvis Andrus drove home a runner from third with a ground out to account for the Ranger runs.

Minor is 8-5 with the loss, though he did rally back from the home run barrage to finish seven innings.  Verlander is 12-4 with the win, and Roberto Osuna earned his 21st save.

Saturday night, the Rangers managed just two hits.  One was a Shin-Soo Choo home run to account for all the Ranger scoring.  No other Ranger batter even advanced as far as second base.  I. E., the Rangers were 0-0 with runners in scoring position.

Ariel Jurado started and completed five innings, allowing five runs.  Tony Kemp hit a solo home run in the seventh inning to top off the Astros’ offense, making the final score 6-1.

Jurado is 5-6 with the loss, while Jose Urquidy (formerly Jose Hernandez) pitched seven strong innings allowing the Ranger run and both hits.  He’s 1-0 with the win.

On Sunday, Lance Lynn was the Ranger starting pitcher, and he struck out 12 Astros in seven innings.  However, he did allow four runs on seven hits, which was enough to lose the game.  He threw 118 pitches, his 12th consecutive game to throw at least 100 pitches.

Danny Santana beat out an infield single to drive in a run in the third inning, cutting the Astros lead to 2-1 at the time.  It ended an 0-19 RISP streak for Texas dating back to last weekend, when the departed Willie Calhoun last had a hit with a runner in scoring position.  Nomar Mazara and Logan Forsythe hit solo home runs to complete the Rangers’ scoring to make the final score 5-3.

Lynn is 12-6 with the loss.  Rogelio Armenteros was the Astros’ spot starter on Sunday, and like Urquiddy the night before, he won his first Major League game.  He’s 1-0, and Osuna notched his 22nd save.

The Rangers have now fallen into fourth place in the American League West, trailing third place Los Angeles by one-half game, second place Oakland by 6.5 games, and first place Houston by 13 games.  They are 6.5 games out of the second Wild Card berth, but now have five teams to pass.

The Rangers’ 10 game road trip continues with divisional play on the West Coast.  They face Seattle Monday through Wednesday.  The announced starting pitchers are Adrian Sampson (6-6) on Monday and TBD on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Game times (Central) are 9:10 PM on Monday and Tuesday, and 2:40 PM on Wednesday.


*     Joe Palumbo was originally announced to start a game in Seattle, but he was scratched due to tendinitis in his leg.

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