A few tidibits before writing about Friday night’s game for those not from the Metroplex…
While some may associate the Rangers with Dallas, the fact is the Mavericks and Stars are the only major pro teams who actually play their home games in Dallas. The Rangers and Cowboys play their games in Arlington, located between Dallas and Fort Worth.
From our room at the Sheraton Arlington, we can see Rangers Ballpark in Arlington out our window a mere three blocks away, as well as Six Flags Amusement Park. When you go to Rangers Ballpark and walk the concourse on the first base side, you can see the new Cowboys Stadium a few blocks away.
Here’s an interesting sight: Drive on Randol Mill Road from Rangers Ballpark towards Cowboys Stadium and you’ll see a real contrast- the $1 billion Cowboys Stadium on your left and Wal Mart on your right. I kid you not.
Not that I’m complaining. That Wal-Mart has the widest variety of Rangers merchandise in one place I’ve ever seen outside the stadium. Shirts, banners, posters, key chains, hats, posters, umbrellas. You name it, they had it.
Back in May when we were last here, I went to Champs Sporting Goods at the Gallaria Mall and saw maybe three different styles of T-shirts and one type of windbreaker. That’s all the Rangers gear I saw in the entire mall. Methinks it would be different if I were to go there now, thanks to an outstanding 2010 season.
The Sheraton, as I said, is only three blocks from the ballpark. Surprisingly enough, the TV’s in the rooms do not get Fox Sports Southwest or Local Channel 21, the two outlets for Rangers TV games. I guess they figure fans will just go to the park from here, although you can see the games on TV in the hotel bar.
We did not go to Friday night’s game, but it was available from beginning to end. The first couple of innings we listened on the bedside radio while I strained to see replays on the Jumbotron video board three blocks away. When we left for dinner, we kept our ear on the car stereo. At the restaurant, we were conveniently seated by a TV showing the game. Back to the car stereo on the way back and I saw the last three outs at the hotel bar. Finally, it was back up to the room where we saw the post-game fireworks show. THAT was an awesome experience!
One last note about the Sheraton Arlington. I don’t know if the Twins were staying here when we arrived on Thursday, but I was surprised to see a sign in the lobby saying “No autographs or photographs on hotel property.” I haven’t encountered anyone of particular significance, but there must be someone of renown here. Hey maybe it’s me, the “well-known Rangers blogger!” OK, I’d better move on. I think guest contributor 17-Year-Ranger-Fan just lost his lunch over that last sentence.
OK, to the game. Friday night was probably the best the Rangers have played the past three weeks. They excelled in all phases of the game. Offensively, Josh Hamilton, Andres Blanco and Julio Borbon had three hits apiece in pacing a 15-hit attack. Vlad Guerrero had his 96th RBI. And the Rangers had 6, count ‘em SIX INFIELD HITS!
Defensively there were two gems. In one Andres Blanco went over the rail on the first base side to catch a foul pop. His head must have come perilously close to the cement floor before he popped back up, ball in glove. In the 9th, Josh Hamilton saved possible runs when he outran a deep fly ball, caught it just before crashing into the left field wall, falling to the ground, then popping back up to throw it in to second to keep the baserunner on first from advancing.
Meanwhile, Tommy Hunter pitched a typical Tommy Hunter game, going 7 2/3 with two walks, four strikeouts and giving up two home runs in picking up win #11 on the year with only two losses. The only pitching negative is Frank Francisco, who has pitched sparingly the past two weeks, had to be removed in the 9th after straining a back muscle. This might put him on the DL. Since Frankie’s the 8th inning set-up man, this would mean the three O’s- Darren O’Day, Darren Olive and Alexi Ogando- will have to step up big time.
Tonight we’ll be at a sold-out game. When we were here in May, we saw Rich Harden beat the Royals in one of his relatively up games. Of all the pitchers, we get Harden again tonight. He’s had a definite bipolar season thus far. Hopefully it’s another up night. Interesting note: Harden didn’t give up any hits in six plus innings his last time out. He’ll be opposed by Dallas Braden, who threw a perfect game against the Rays earlier this year. Despite this no-hit pedigree, I actually expect a game along the lines of 6-5 tonight (good guys on top, of course!). Before the show, a concert by Christian group Mercy Me. The wife and I will be out in the left field seats in our respective Josh Hamilton shirts. Feel free to say hi, but remember the Sheraton policy: No autographs or photographs. We need our privacy.