By STEPHEN HAWKINS AP Baseball Writer
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Mike Minor pitched seven sharp innings for the Texas Rangers in a 4-0 victory Wednesday night over the frustrated Astros, whose starter Gerrit Cole immediately after his final out went to the home plate umpire who earlier ejected Houston’s manager and hitting coach for arguing balls and strikes.
Cole (0-2) struck out nine while allowing three runs over six innings. After fielding Hunter Pence’s comebacker and throwing to first for an inning-ending out on his 105th pitch, the right-hander went up to ump Ron Kulpa, put his glove over his mouth and was clearly agitated during an extended conversation.
While the Astros batted in the seventh, Cole was still rankled while pacing back and forth in the dugout.
Minor, who didn’t make it out of the fifth inning in his first career opening-day start last Thursday, gave up five hits, struck out seven and walked two in his seven innings.
Nomar Mazara put Texas ahead to stay with a two-out infield RBI single in the first. Pence had a two-out RBI single in the fourth and scored on Ronald Guzman’s double. Mazara added a solo homer, his second of the season, in the eighth.
Astros manager AJ Hinch and hitting coach Alex Cintron were ejected after consecutive pitches in the second inning, which came after Cole was upset in the bottom of the first when his 2-2 fastball to Joey Gallo with two outs was called a ball. Gallo eventually drew a two-out walk, but didn’t score.
Cintron and others on the bench apparently questioned a low strike called on Tyler White. Hinch came out after Kulpa stared toward the dugout. Nobody was initially ejected, but soon after the manager returned to the dugout and before the next pitch, Cintron was still chirping and was tossed.
One pitch later, after another called strike, Hinch was ejected and then came out of the dugout for a heated argument with Kulpa. Hinch was pulled away by bench coach Joe Espada , who took over as the acting manager.
Cole also addressed Kulpa after the third inning, during a stretch when the pitcher had just retired seven batters in a row since Gallo’s walk in the first.
Shawn Kelley and Jose Leclerc each pitched an inning to wrap up the first shutout of the season for the Rangers, who are 4-2 after winning each of their first two series for new manager Chris Woodward. It is the first time since 2013 that Texas has won its first two series of a season.
Rangers: Mazara fell awkwardly to the ground after colliding with 1B Yuli Gurriel on his hit in the first. Mazara stayed down for several minutes while a Rangers trainer checked him, before he got up and jogged around a bit.
Astros: RHP Collin McHugh (0-1) starts the homer opener for the 2-5 Astros on Friday night against Oakland after their first off day of the season Thursday.
Rangers: RHP Edinson Volquez makes his second start on Thursday night when the Rangers travel to Los Angeles to serve as the opponent in the home opener for the Angels.
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