Hey, now that's what I call a series. The Rangers defeated the Astros 7-4 on Thursday night, the club's 4th win in as many games, to complete their first sweep of the year.
A.J. Griffin went 6 innings, allowing 2 runs on 4 hits, with 6 strikeouts to 2 walks. Taking the assignment opposite last year's Cy Young Award winner, Dallas Keuchel, it was a strong effort from Texas's nominal 5th starter.
The Astros led off the game with back-to-back doubles, to open the scoring at 1-nil. After allowing a one-out walk to Colby Rasmus, Griffin managed to get through the 1st without any further damage. Over the course of his next 5 innings, A.J. allowed a run (a Rasmus solo HR) on just 2 hits and a walk, before handing the game over to the bullpen.
Trailing 1-0, it didn't take long for Texas to answer. After a pair of two-out singles, Ian Desmond launched a 3-run HR into the Rangers bullpen to make it 3-1, and the good guys never looked back. They added single runs in the 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 7th, the last of which coming on an Adrian Beltre home run to dead center.
Texas led 7-2 in the 8th when Rasmus hit a 2-run shot to right -- his 2nd of the game -- against RHP Tony Barnette, who was working his second inning of relief. That was the last of the game's scoring. Jake Diekman came on for the final out of the 8th, and Shawn Tolleson pitched the 9th for his 6th save in 7 chances.
Meanwhile, the Astros are reeling. They've now lost 4 of 5 and 7 of their last 9 games; at 5-11, they are dead last in the AL West standings and already 5.0 games behind Texas. For whatever reason, Houston just can't seem to solve their intrastate rival from Arlington. Over their last 4 series' against the Rangers, Texas has swept them 3 times and won 11 of 13 contests. It's effectively what lost them the division down the stretch of 2015.
But, whatever. All that's relevant now is 2016, and it's hard to argue with the early season results.