HOUSTON -- For the second time in five games, someone other than closer Ken Giles earned the save for the Houston Astros, with right-hander Chris Devenski closing a 3-2 win over theTexas Rangers on Friday.
These developments tend to raise eyebrows, and while Devenski and Brad Peacock, who saved a 4-1 win on Monday at Minnesota but coughed up a three-run lead on Saturday in a 6-5, 10-inning loss to the Texas Rangers, are capable and Giles endured a rough postseason, the question of who Astros manager A.J. Hinch will rely on late in high-leverage situations beckons.
The Astros hope to get a chance to answer those questions about late-inning relievers Sunday night when they conclude a three-game series with Texas.
"I think it's going to settle in with a little bit more of a routine on how to close games, but on any given day I feel at liberty to use any one of our guys, and I think our guys are on board," Hinch said. "I think it's unfairly pointed the finger at Ken Giles as not being the closer which is not necessarily the case. I just think it's been some extreme examples of matchups that we like and some rest periods for guys like Peacock and Devenski particularly that I've really liked.
"Unfortunately, that puts a lot of pressure on Ken or it gives a lot of attention to the ninth inning or makes it look a little bit more unique in the game, but in this particular stretch that's been the case. I don't know if it's going to be that way moving forward. It's played out the way it's played out and we'll react accordingly."
Giles pitched a perfect ninth inning on Saturday.
Right-hander Justin Verlander (2-0, 1.45 ERA) is the scheduled starter for Houston in the rubber match Sunday. Verlander twirled six shutout innings at Texas on Opening Day, allowing four hits and two walks with five strikeouts.
He is 12-6 with a 2.88 ERA over 21 career starts against Texas. He has won nine consecutive regular-seasons decisions dating to Aug. 20, 2017, seven coming with the Astros while posting a 1.20 ERA and 66 strikeouts over 52 2/3 innings.
The Rangers will counter with right-hander Bartolo Colon, the 2005 American League Cy Young Award winner with the Angels, opposite Verlander, who claimed the award six years later with the Tigers. Colon (0-0, 1.64 ERA) is set to make his fourth appearance and second start of the season, and just his fifth career start at Houston including one at the Astrodome.
Colon is 8-4 with a 4.09 ERA over 13 career starts against the Astros.
At 44 years and 326 days old, Colon is the oldest player in the majors and, along with Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre, one of two current big leaguers with 20-plus seasons in the majors. Colon has played for 11 teams and, with 240 wins, is six victories shy of becoming the winningest Latin-born player in history. Fellow Dominican Juan Marichal (243) and Nicaraguan-born Dennis Martinez (245) rank ahead of Colon, who continues to ply his trade with verve.
"I love his pitchability," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "He knows how to pitch, there's no panic. Knows what he needs to do and he can execute very well. The leadership he brings with all of our young guys, not only the young guys but some of the veteran players as well. The calmness that he brings and joy for the game.
"I think he understands his place in the game and it's going to be fun to watch as he knocks some of these wins off the board and gets closer to where he wants to go."
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