Saunders hit hard in Rangers' spring finale
Southpaw gives up seven runs in 4 1/3 innings as Astros win second straight vs. Texas
SAN ANTONIO -- The Astros swept a two-game exhibition set on Saturday, 13-6, capping a Big League Weekend at the Alamodome between Texas' two Major League franchises.
The Astros and Rangers, division rivals playing for the first time at the Alamodome, drew 49,932 over the two games -- 22,677 on Friday and 27,255 Saturday.
Houston jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead in the first inning behind consecutive home runs by Jesus Guzman and George Springer. The Astros added to their lead in the fifth behind Jonathan Meyer's grand slam.
In his final tuneup before the regular season, Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel allowed five runs (four earned) over 4 1/3 innings. He yielded two home runs -- a solo shot by Leonys Martin led off the third inning and a leadoff homer by Brent Lillibridge in the fifth. Keuchel walked one and struck out five.
"I felt real good coming out of the gate," Keuchel said. "That's a pretty good lineup out there, one through nine. I felt like I held my own. It was nice to go out there and compete against a pretty prestigious team."
Lefty Joe Saunders, slated as the Rangers' fourth starter and scheduled to make his regular season debut on Friday against the Rays, allowed seven earned runs over 4 1/3 innings. He walked two and struck out seven.
Saunders said he had a dead arm in his last outing but that was not an issue today. Just the small ballpark.
"When you're pitching in a place like this, you can't focus on results," he said. "You focus on mechanics and making pitches. I felt good today. My arm felt good and the ball was coming out of my hand good. Spring Training is over. I'm ready to go."
Saunders took a ground ball off the side of his left knee in the first inning on a one-hop grounder by Marwin Gonzalez. The ball caromed into foul territory but Saunders stayed in the game. He threw 87 pitches.
"It hurt a little bit but I couldn't come out of a game like that," Saunders said. "You've got to get your pitches in and get your work done."
The Astros carried just 21 players on their roster for this game, sending the rest of the squad back to Houston in advance of a two-game exhibition series with El Aguila de Veracruz. Several top prospects represented the Astros in San Antonio, including Delino DeShields (1-for-5) and George Springer (3-for-3). Gonzalez, who has made the Opening Day roster, logged three hits and scored two runs.
On the Rangers side, Jim Adduci, who entered the game in the fourth, replacing left fielder Mitch Moreland, singled in two of his three at-bats.
Up next: The Rangers are off on Sunday before opening the season at home at 1:05 p.m CT on Monday against the Phillies. It will be the earliest date ever for an Interleague game. This will be the Phillies' second visit to Arlington; the other was 2008. The two teams haven't played since May 20-22, 2011 at Citizens Bank Park.