By Associated Press - Saturday, March 31, 2018

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) - Carlos Correa thinks Lance McCullers Jr. is headed for a big season. McCullers feels the same way about Correa.

McCullers struck out 10 in 5 1/3 innings, Correa hit a two-run homer and the Houston Astros beat the Texas Rangers 9-3 on Saturday.

“What I’ve seen from Lance in spring training is he’s nasty, he’s just filthy,” Correa said. “I really believe that if he stays healthy for the whole year, he can be in the conversation for a Cy Young Award.”

McCullers volleyed the compliment right back to the star shortstop.

“That was nice of him to say. The same goes for him. I think if it continues to click for him, he’s MVP-caliber player, obviously,” he said.

Correa and reigning AL MVP Jose Altuve each went 4 for 5 and scored twice for the World Series champions. Jake Marisnick hit a two-run homer, and Marwin Gonzalez also drove in two runs.

“As a team, we’re taking a lot of pride in the pitches we swing at and the pitches we take,” Correa said. “I hope we can stay consistent with that.”

Manager A.J. Hinch was pleased with Houston’s 14-hit offense.

“I think we can go from any position in the lineup and do some damage,” he said. “Obviously, Jake at the bottom. If we can continue to get production throughout the lineup, we’ll be really hard to kick out of games.”

Elvis Andrus had two hits for Texas, including his first homer of the season. He scored each of the Rangers’ three runs.

Matt Moore (0-1) allowed four runs and seven hits in four innings in his Texas debut. The left-hander went 6-15 with a 5.52 ERA last season with San Francisco.

Houston opened a 3-0 lead in the second. Evan Gattis led off with a double and scored when Brian McCann’s popup fell in front of right fielder Nomar Mazara for a single. Marisnick followed with his second homer.

Doubles by Correa and Gonzalez produced another run in the third.

“It’s a good first inning, good fourth inning,” Moore said. “So, I’ve got to be better with that, those middle innings.”

Gonzalez added a sacrifice fly in the fifth. George Springer hit an RBI double in the sixth, and Correa connected in the seventh.


Astros: 1B Yuli Gurriel, recovering from surgery on his left hand, had eight at-bats in a minor league spring training game. “He’ll do it again (Sunday) and again on Monday, and then we’ll have to evaluate what Tuesday looks like,” Hinch said. When Gurriel is ready to play, he’ll serve a five-game suspension for a racially insensitive gesture during the 2017 World Series.

Rangers: CF Delino DeShields went on the 10-day disabled list with a fractured left hamate bone and is expected to miss four to six weeks. “Got to get (the bone) taken out and not worry about it anymore,” DeShields said. “I’m aiming for three (weeks).” He will be examined by Dr. Thomas DiLiberti on Monday.


McCann was the only left-handed batter in Houston’s lineup against Moore.

Hinch said Sunday’s lineup is likely to be all right-handed, with Max Stassi replacing McCann against another lefty, Mike Minor. Last season, left-handers hit .163 against Minor.


Astros: The four-game series concludes with RHP Gerrit Cole (12-12, 4.26 ERA last season for Pittsburgh) making his Houston debut.

Rangers: Minor (6-6, 2.55 in relief for Kansas City in 2017) is scheduled for his first major league start since 2014.

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