The Rangers handed the Astros their first loss since April 22 tonight with a 2-1 comeback victory at Minute Maid Park. The loss snaps Houston’s winning streak at 10 games.
The Astros had the early lead in this one, as Evan Gattis hit a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the first inning. Dallas Keuchel held the Rangers scoreless over the first seven innings — and even struck out seven batters in a row at one point — but Jake Smolinski tied the game in the eighth with an RBI single while Robinson Chirinos drove in the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly off Chad Qualls in the ninth.
Houston’s offense has been on a tear of late, but Ross Detwiler held them in check tonight by allowing just one run on four hits and two walks while striking out seven. Neftali Feliz struck out two in a scoreless ninth inning for his third save of the season.
Despite the loss, the Astros still own the best record in the American League at 18-8.
The Los Angeles Times reports that federal agents have interviewed at least six current and former Angels players as part of their investigation into the death of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs.
Among the players questioned: Andrew Heaney, Noé Ramirez, Trevor Cahill, and Matt Harvey. An industry source tells NBC Sports that the interviews by federal agents are part of simultaneous investigations into Skaggs’ death by United States Attorneys in both Texas and California.
There has been no suggestion that the players are under criminal scrutiny or are suspected of using opioids. Rather, they are witnesses to the ongoing investigation and their statements have been sought to shed light on drug use by Skaggs and the procurement of illegal drugs by him and others in and around the club.
Skaggs asphyxiated while under the influence of fentanyl, oxycodone, and alcohol in his Texas hotel room on July 1. This past weekend, ESPN reported that Eric Kay, the Los Angeles Angels’ Director of Communications, knew that Skaggs was an Oxycontin addict, is an addict himself, and purchased opioids for Skaggs and used them with him on multiple occasions. Kay has told DEA agents that, apart from Skaggs, at least five other Angels players are opioid users and that other Angels officials knew of Skaggs’ use. The Angels have denied Kay’s allegations.
In some ways this all resembles what happened in Pittsburgh in the 1980s, when multiple players were interviewed and subsequently called as witnesses in prosecutions that came to be known as the Pittsburgh Drug Trials. There, no baseball players were charged with crimes in connection with what was found to be a cocaine epidemic inside Major League clubhouses, but their presence as witnesses caused the prosecutions to be national news for weeks and months on end.