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The Strike Zone

Rangers score 11 runs against Astros in third inning, one shy of AL record

Elvis Andrus, Carlos CorporanElvis Andrus (L) scored three times vs. the Astros, twice in an 11-run third inning. (Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports)

The Texas Rangers scored 11 runs in the third inning of their 16-5 win over the Astros Monday night. Those 11 runs were the most runs scored in a single inning by one team since the Cardinals pushed across an even dozen in the seventh inning against the Cubs on July 21 of last year and fell just one shy of the all-time third-inning record by an American League team set by the New York Yankees against the Washington Senators in the opening game of a double-header on September 11, 1949. To put that another way, only once in the 114-year history of the American League had a team scored more runs in the third inning than the Rangers did Monday night and that happened 64 years ago.

In total, the Rangers sent 15 men to the plate in the third inning, collecting seven hits and three walks, one intentional, with two other men reaching on Astros errors, and left just one man on base as each of the Texas starting nine scored at least once. Amazingly, the Rangers bunted twice and had just one extra-base hit, a bases-loaded double by Mitch Moreland that plated just two of the 11 runs. Here's how the inning progressed:

The Rangers sent the top of their order to the plate in bottom of the third inning against Astros starter Lucas Harrell with a 2-1 lead. Leadoff man Leonys Martin started off by dropping down a bunt single on Harrell's first pitch. Elvis Andrus followed with a single up the middle, but Martin fell down rounding second and had to hold there. Ian Kinsler then bunted the runners up to second and third. After Harrell fell behind 3-0 to Adrian Beltre, Astros' manager Bo Porter ordered an intentional fourth ball to load the bases.

The scoring started when A.J. Pierzynski singled Martin and Andrus home, pushing Beltre to second. Alex Rios singled to load the bases again. Then, after a visit to the mound by Astros pitching coach Doug Brocail, Moreland launched a first-pitch double over Robbie Grossman's head to the 404-foot sign in center field to plate Beltre and Pierzynski. Harrell then walked Jurickson Profar on five pitches to re-load the bases and was pulled in favor of lefty Wade LeBlanc.

Despite the fact that the Rangers had already scored five runs in the inning, this is where things turned ugly for the Astros. With the bases loaded and one out, LeBlanc got the lefty-swinging David Murphy to hit a would-be inning-ending double-play ball to second, but Astros shortstop Jonathan Villar dropped Jose Altuve's quick back-handed glove feed allowing Rios and Moreland to score and putting Profar and Murphy safely on second and first. LeBlanc then walked Martin on five pitches to again load the bases after which third baseman Matt Dominguez flubbed a backhanded play on a hard hopper by Andrus for the second error of the inning, allowing Jurickson to score and keeping the bases loaded.

Kinsler then got a second chance to swing the bat and delivered a single that plated Murphy and Martin while he and Andrus moved up to second and third as left fielder Chris Carter's throw missed every possible cut-off man. Only then did the Astros finally get an out that the Rangers didn't willingly surrender, but because of Carter's wild throw, Andrus scored on Beltre's groundout to shortstop, which Villar flubbed briefly before recovering to get the out. Finally, to make sure everyone got a chance to score, Pierzynski singled home Kinsler before Rios lined out to right field to mercifully end the inning.

To recap: bunt single, single, sac bunt, intentional walk, single (2 R), single, double (2 R), walk, E6 (2 R), walk, E5 (R), single (2 R), groundout (R), single (R), line out.

When the smoke cleared, the Rangers were up 13-1. A.J. Pierzynski went 2-for-2 with three RBIs in the inning. Martin and Andrus both scored twice. Lucas, whose first start since July was moved up from Tuesday due to scheduled Monday starter Jordan Lyles being used in relief on Sunday, wound up giving up nine runs, seven earned, in just 2 1/3 innings of work with seven of those runs, including the two unearned, scoring in the third inning. LeBlanc got off easier as the four runs he allowed in the inning were all unearned, though he did give up an earned run in the next inning.

With the win, the Rangers held on to their half-game lead in the AL West over the A's, who also won, beating the Mariners 2-1 behind Jarrod Parker's first major league complete game. The Astros, meanwhile, fell to 41-83 and are on pace for 108 losses, which would be the most in the majors since the Diamondbacks lost 111 games in 2004.

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