ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) That trio of Texas infielders and the switch-hitting catcher selected as starters for the All-Star Game might not be the only Rangers players going to Seattle later this month. Their top pitcher could be joining them there.
Nathan Eovaldi pitched seven scoreless innings to become the American League's second 10-game winner, and each of those four position players voted in by the fans had a hand in runs as the AL West-leading Rangers beat the second-place Houston Astros 5-2 on Saturday.
“I’ve seen him throughout my entire career. ... Just a lot of different ways to attack hitters righty and lefty. And it’s hard to have an approach against him. And I know that from facing him,” All-Star second baseman Marcus Semien said of Eovaldi. “It’s been fun to play behind him because he works quick. He gets groundballs, gets out of innings with double plays. He gets strikeouts.”
Eovaldi (10-3) struck out five and limited the Astros to two singles while working around a season-high four walks. The right-hander lowered his ERA to 2.64 with his fifth start this season when he didn't allow a run.
With a four-pitch mix, but using his slider more than he remembers in a long time, Eovaldi got 12 of his outs on nine groundballs, including three double plays.
“I feel like you have to set the tone by attacking the hitters, and I was able to do that from the first inning,” Eovaldi said.
“They had us played right and (we) couldn't keep the ball off the ground. He was tough,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “He threw a good game, a real good game, against us.”
With two games left in the four-game series, the Rangers (50-33) restored the five-game division lead they had had before losing the opener 5-3 on Friday night.
Semien, shortstop Corey Seager and rookie third baseman Josh Jung each drove in a run. Catcher Jonah Heim had three hits and scored a run.
The reserves and the pitchers for the July 11 All-Star Game in Seattle will be announced Sunday.
“It would be a huge honor to be able to go out there,” said Eovaldi, an All-Star two years ago with Boston.
Two-time NL Cy Young Award winner and since-injured Jacob deGrom was the most-noted addition to the Rangers rotation last winter. But Texas native Eovaldi, who signed a $34 million, two-year contract that includes a conditional player option for the 2025 season, is tied for the second-most wins in the majors. Tampa Bay lefty Shane McClanahan leads the way with 11 wins.
After Josh Sborz worked a perfect eighth, reliever Joe Barlow gave up Kyle Tucker's two-run homer with two outs in the ninth. Will Smith then came on to get the final out for his 15th save in 16 chances.
Newly acquired hard-throwing reliever Aroldis Chapman, who joined the Rangers a day after being traded from Kansas City, was in the bullpen but never warmed up.
Astros rookie starter Hunter Brown (6-5) struck out six while allowing three runs and 10 hits over four innings, the shortest of the right-hander’s 16 starts this season.
Texas went ahead to stay on Seager's single in the third inning for his 49th RBI in 51 games played. Heim had a leadoff double in the fourth and scored on a single by Travis Jankowski, who then had a stolen base before going home on the second of Semien's three singles. Adolis Garcia and Jung had consecutive RBI doubles to open the seventh and make it 4-0.
The paid attendance of 40,380 was a Rangers record at Globe Life Field, which opened in 2020. It was the seventh sellout this season, and the second in a row with two more expected this series. ... Seager's 20-game on-base streak is the longest active in the American League.
Astros: LHP Framber Valdez will miss his scheduled start Sunday. Baker said Valdez (7-6, 2.49 ERA) has been bothered since he sprained his right ankle June 20 against the New York Mets, even though he made his next scheduled start in St. Louis. ... SS Jeremy Peña was out of the lineup for the second game in a row because of a stiff neck.
LHP Andrew Heaney (5-5, 4.38 ERA), who starts Sunday for Texas, threw five scoreless innings against the Astros on April 16. It was a no decision for Heaney, who left when the 9-1 Rangers victory was still scoreless.
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