EditorsNote: Corrected final score, Marwin Gonzalez’s name
Lance McCullers scattered four hits and allowed two runs in 5 1/3 innings on the mound, and Carlos Correa had a two-run home run among his four hits as the Houston Astros rolled past the Texas Rangers 9-3 on Saturday afternoon at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas.
McCullers (1-0) mostly baffled the Rangers, striking out 10, walking just one and surviving two hot shots up the middle, including one that bounced off his right ankle and knocked him to the dirt.
Texas starter Matt Moore (0-1), one of the Rangers’ handful of offseason pitching acquisitions, took the loss and was lifted after four innings of work in which he allowed four runs (all earned) on seven hits with six strikeouts and no walks.
Houston managed 14 hits off six Rangers pitchers, with Jake Marisnick adding a home run and two RBIs and Marwin Gonzalez also driving in two.
The Astros broke on top in the second inning when Brian McCann’s bloop single to right field drove home Evan Gattis. Marisnick then homered over the left field fence into the teeth of a headwind to score McCann and give Houston a 3-0 lead.
Gonzalez doubled home Correa in the third to expand Houston’s lead to 4-0.
Elvis Andrus ripped a solo home run to left-center in the bottom of the third to get Texas back to within 4-1. Andrus’ homer was also the Rangers’ first hit of the game.
Gonzalez’ sacrifice fly in the fifth inning plated Jose Altuve for a 5-1 lead, and George Springer’s double in the sixth brought home Marisnick from first base to allow the Astros to push their advantage to 6-1.
Adrian Beltre’s RBI double in the bottom of the sixth scored Andrus and chased McCullers. Will Harris relieved and retired two to limit the damage.
Correa blasted his first home run of the season in the seventh to drive home Altuve (who also had four hits) and build Houston’s lead to 8-2. Altuve’s RBI single in the eighth drove home McCann with the Astros’ ninth run.
The Rangers scrapped across a run in the eighth on a Nomar Mazara single off Astros reliever Tony Sipp that drove home Andrus.
The Astros will send their big offseason acquisition, right-hander Gerrit Cole (12-12, 4.26 ERA last season with Pittsburgh), to the mound to oppose Texas’ Mike Minor (6-6, 2.55 in 2018 with Kansas City as a reliever) on Sunday in the series finale.
—Field Level Media