HOUSTON -- Astros manager A.J. Hinch had maintained an admirable level of optimism despite the seemingly endless string of agonizing losses to the Rangers, never showcasing any underlying frustration that surely accompanied the myriad methods in which Texas repeatedly uncovered to defeat his ballclub.
On Tuesday night, his frustration was palpable and unmistakable. The Rangers rallied for two runs off Astros closer Ken Giles with two outs in the ninth inning to steal a 3-2 victory in the penultimate game between the in-state rivals this season. It was the Astros' 15th loss in 18 meetings with Texas (87-59) this season and the Rangers' 23rd win in the series over the last 28 games dating to Aug. 3, 2015.
Last season, the Rangers chased down Houston and swiped the American League West title in the final weeks of the season. On Tuesday night, Texas dropped the Astros 4 1/2 games out of the AL wild card picture, devastating their playoff hopes by tossing another close victory on a pile that appears set to collapse on top of Houston.
"The reality is we have a lot of pride in our clubhouse," Hinch said. "We have a lot of intensity, competitiveness. We have a lot of winning players. To follow the narrative of there's a doomsday coming is just not going to be accepted. It's not going to be how it is. They came out and beat us by putting together a really good ninth inning against a really good pitcher and no more than that.
"We can't remake or replay the games that we've faced these guys. But to concede or think that something bad's going to happen is garbage. That's not going to happen."
The Astros (75-70) close their season series against Texas on Wednesday night with rookie right-hander Joe Musgrove (2-4, 4.78 ERA) on the mound. Of his seven starts this season, Musgrove has faced the Rangers twice already, allowing six runs on 13 hits and two walks with nine strikeouts over 11 1/3 innings. Musgrove is 0-1 against Texas.
Texas, 9 1/2 games up on the Mariners in the AL West, has started preparations for the postseason. The first step came late Tuesday night when Rangers manager Jeff Banister adjusted his rotation by naming left-hander Derek Holland (7-7, 4.74 ERA) the starter for the series finale.
Holland, bumped to the bullpen over the weekend following the return of right-hander Colby Lewis, did not make an appearance as a reliever. He was set to piggyback right-hander A.J. Griffin on Tuesday night, but Griffin pitched exceptionally while working seven strong innings against the Astros. Holland instead will replace right-hander Yu Darvish, who will slot behind lefty Cole Hamels this weekend against the Athletics. That series starts Friday in Arlington.
"Cause that's where we want Darvish to pitch," Banister said when asked about the change. "This is my decision to pitch Derek (on Wednesday)."
Holland is 5-2 with a 4.19 ERA in 12 career starts against the Astros, 2-0, 3.27 in two starts against them this season.