HOUSTON (AP) — Jurickson Profar had just taken a cleat to the face and blood was trickling down his left cheek when Texas manager Jeff Banister went out to check on him in the sixth inning Sunday.
Before Banister could say anything, his young shortstop spoke. “He told me he wasn’t coming out of the game,” Banister said.
Profar hit a go-ahead double deflected by the pitcher and stayed in despite his injury as the Rangers became the first team to sweep Houston this year, beating the Astros 4-3.
Texas took three in a row from the AL West leaders and extended the Astros’ skid to a season-high four games.
“I want to forget it to be honest,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “I don’t really want to talk about it … we’re getting beat up. I think we need to get to the next series. We have some things to address. We are not working as perfectly as we normally do.”
Banister lauded the grit Profar showed on Sunday and said the way he plays is a bright spot in this trying season for the last-place Rangers.
“The defense, the at-bats, the aggressive baserunning, it’s fun to watch a young guy play that way,” he said. “We encourage our guys to continue to play that way. It kind of epitomizes why we won a baseball game today. Aggressive in certain situations. He showed some toughness to stay on the field and not have to come out.”
The Rangers won even though they struck out 19 times — the most Houston pitchers have recorded in a nine-inning game in franchise history.
It was 1-all in the sixth when Rougned Odor doubled and Profar hit a grounder nicked by Lance McCullers (10-6) that rolled into the outfield. Astros second baseman Yuli Gurriel lost his balance and kicked Profar in the cheek with his cleats as he slid into second base.
Profar was bleeding from cuts to his face and left the field briefly before returning with a bandage covering the injury. He did not receive stitches, but had the cuts glued shut after the game and he wore four small bandages on them as he spoke to reporters about the play.
He said it hurt quite a bit during the game, but he didn’t have time to contemplate how close the cleats came to his eye.
“I wasn’t thinking about how scary it was,” he said. “I was just trying to play.”
He advanced to third on a wild pitch with two outs before scoring when Isiah Kiner-Falefa reached on error by Gurriel.
Gurriel made his first career start at second base a day after reigning MVP Jose Altuve went on the disabled list for the first time in his career with a sore knee.
The Rangers pushed the lead to 4-1 on an RBI double by Ronald Guzman that chased McCullers.
Mike Minor (7-6) allowed four hits and two runs while striking out eight in six innings for his first win since June 27. Keone Kela allowed a run in the ninth before retiring George Springer with two on to get his 24th save.
McCullers yielded six hits and four runs — three earned — and struck out 11 in 5 1/3 innings to lose his third straight start.
Tyler White, recalled from Triple-A Fresno before the game, put Houston up 1-0 with two outs in the second with a home run.
McCullers retired the first 11 batters he faced, fanning six, before Profar singled with two outs in the fourth inning. Delino DeShields hit an RBI double in the fifth that tied it at 1.
Astros: SS Carlos Correa (back soreness) took groundballs on the field before the game and will travel with the team to Seattle to continue to ramp up his activity as he moves closer to a rehabilitation assignment.
White took a red eye flight to get to Houston in time for Sunday’s game. He left Fresno at 11 p.m. Saturday night and arrived in Houston at 8:45 Sunday morning after a layover in Chicago.
“I was playing off of adrenaline,” he said. “Sometimes you see it coming, but it was out of nowhere, they were like: ‘Hey you’re going up, maybe tonight.’ It was kind of a whirlwind the last few hours.”
Rangers: Martin Perez (2-4, 7.08 ERA) is scheduled to start for Texas on Monday in the opener of a two-game interleague series at Arizona. Perez allowed seven hits and one run in six innings in his last start against Oakland but did not factor in the decision.
Astros: Gerrit Cole (10-2, 2.54) will pitch for Houston on Monday when the team opens a three-game series against the Mariners. Cole ranks fourth in the American League with 186 strikeouts.
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