Texas Notes: No-Hitter, Pena, McCullers, Duran, Hearn, Garver

Cristian Javier, Hector Neris, and Ryan Pressly combined for the 14th no-hitter in Astros history, as Houston earned a 3-0 win over the Yankees today in the Bronx.  Javier handled much of the work over seven innings, with Neris and Pressly each contributing an inning of hitless pitching to stifle the lineup of the league-leading Yankees.  It was the first time in over 19 years that New York had been no-hit, also at hands of the Astros — six Houston pitchers blanked the Yankees on June 11, 2003.

More from both the Astros and Rangers, as we run down baseball news from the Lone Star State….

  • Jeremy Pena is likely to return to Houston’s lineup on Sunday, as the rookie shortstop took batting practice today.  Left thumb discomfort sent Pena to the 10-day injured list on June 15, though an MRI didn’t reveal any damage.  It thankfully looks like only a minor injury for Pena, and he’ll now get to resume his outstanding rookie season.  Making his MLB debut earlier this year, Pena has hit .277/.333/.471 with nine homers over his first 211 plate appearances, though his hot bat had been cooling off in the two weeks prior to his IL stint.
  • Lance McCullers Jr. was the pitcher throwing to Pena, with McCullers tossing around 20 pitches during the overall BP session.  McCullers told MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart and other reporters that his repertoire included changeups, sinkers, and a slider, and he was throwing as hard as 93mph.  Since suffering a flexor tendon strain during last year’s postseason and then a rehab setback in January, McCullers has been slowly working his way back, and is still likely a month or so away from a minor league rehab assignment.
  • After today’s 3-2 win over the Nationals, the Rangers optioned left-hander Taylor Hearn and infielder Ezequiel Duran to Triple-A.  Corresponding moves will be made prior to tomorrow’s game.  Hearn was the bulk pitcher in today’s bullpen game, allowing only two walks over four scoreless innings, though it was a rare quality outing an otherwise rough season for the southpaw.  Even with today’s game on his ledger, Hearn still has a 5.86 ERA over 63 innings, starting 13 of his 14 games.  Texas called Duran up to the majors for his MLB debut earlier this month, and the top-100 prospect hit .258/.281/.435 with two home runs over 64 PA.  Duran had been seeing most of the playing time at third base, but with Josh Smith now back from the IL, Duran will continue his development with an everyday role at Triple-A rather than part-time duty in the Show.
  • Mitch Garver went 0-for-2 with a walk against the Nats today, dropping the veteran’s slash line to .201/.288/.383 for the season, over 170 PA.  Garver has been trying to play through a damaged flexor tendon in his throwing forearm, but he told reporters (including Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News) that he would make a decision by the All-Star break whether or not to undergo season-ending surgery.  With a 7-8 month recovery time required for the surgery, Garver would miss little to none of Spring Training by getting the procedure relatively soon.  It is possible Garver could instead try to rehab the forearm problem without surgery, but Grant writes “that route is more uncertain” in terms of a recovery timeline or what it might mean for Garver’s 2023 season.  Since suffering the flexor injury, Garver hasn’t been able to play catcher, so the Rangers have been limiting him to DH or pinch-hitting duty.

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