Taveras career-high 5 RBIs, Rangers beat Astros 8-4 in 10

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
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HOUSTON — Leody Taveras drove in a career-high five runs, including a bases-clearing double as part of a five-run 10th inning as the Texas Rangers beat the Houston Astros 8-4 on Wednesday night.

Marcus Semien hit a bases-loaded sacrifice fly off Phil Maton (0-2) to put Texas ahead 4-3 in the 10th and Corey Seager followed with an RBI single.

The Rangers loaded the bases again on a single by Adolis Garcia, and two batters later, Taveras cleared them with a drive into the right-center gap.

“I think just his calmness, his ability to kind of like, `OK, I am going to navigate my way through these at bats every single game.’ I’m proud of him,” Texas manager Chris Woodward said. “He has come a long way in a short amount of time, and he’s proven to us that I can’t take him out of the lineup.”

Taveras also had a sacrifice fly in the sixth and an RBI triple in the fourth off Justin Verlander.

“I was not trying to do too much,” Taveras said of his approach against Verlander. “He’s a really good pitcher, and I was just trying to put the ball in play.”

Taylor Hearn (5-6) pitched a perfect ninth for the win.

Verlander yielded three runs on five hits with seven strikeouts in six innings. He leads the majors with 15 wins and a 1.85 ERA.

The three runs were the most Verlander had allowed since surrendering seven in a loss to the White Sox on June 18, snapping a streak of seven straight starts giving up two runs or fewer.

“I think I made some good pitches,” Verlander said. “A couple things just didn’t go my way, and that’s OK. That’s baseball. I thought the stuff was actually pretty sharp. I thought my slider was pretty good. A lot of positives to take away from it. Obviously, not the type of boxscore I would like to have, but I was able to grind through six.”

Kyle Tucker and Yordan Alvarez each hit solo home runs for the AL West-leading Astros. Tucker hit an RBI single in the 10th. Houston finished 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position.

“I thought we did have some opportunities,” said Houston bench coach Joe Espada, who managed the team with manager Dusty Baker out after testing positive for COVID-19 last week. “I didn’t think it would come back to haunt us, but those opportunities once you get them, you want to capitalize.”

Texas starter Glenn Otto allowed two runs on four hits with five strikeouts in five innings.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Rangers: RHP Spencer Howard was placed on the 15-day injured list retroactive to Monday with right shoulder impingement. LHP John King was recalled from Triple-A Round Rock.

Astros: RHP Lance McCullers Jr., who has been on the injured list since the start of the season with a right forearm strain, is set to make his first start of the season on Saturday against Oakland. . OF Michael Brantley, who has been on the injured list since June 27, will get a second opinion on his injured right shoulder.

CLIMBING THE RANKS

Verlander broke a tie with Mets ace Max Scherzer – for now – for 14th on the all-time strikeout list and now has 3,147 in his career. Pedro Martinez is 13th with 3,154 strikeouts.

LITTLE LEAGUERS IN THE HOUSE

Pearland Little League, which won the Southwest Regional and advanced to the Little League World Series, was in attendance for the game. The team went down to the field pregame for autographs from Astros players and were shown on the big screen during the game.

UP NEXT

The Astros will send LHP Framber Valdez (10-4, 2.87 ERA) to the mound Thursday in the series finale opposite LHP Cole Ragans (0-0, 0.00 ERA), who will be making his second career start.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.