Results tagged ‘ Darren Oliver ’
Author’s Note: This will be a multiple-post day. Since it’s Father’s Day, I thought I’d re-share, for those who missed it, my Father’s Day post from 2010. Happy Father’s Day, one and all!
June 15th, 2001. It was a Friday. Mrs. 40 Year Ranger Fan (although she hyphenates the name Mrs.Mariner Fan-40 Year Ranger Fan) approached me as we were preparing to sleep for the night.
“Honey, you know my friend (name withheld to protect the guilty)? She had a special piece of furniture made for her father for Father’s Day. It’s a guy who lives north of town and it’s a pretty heavy piece. She wants to bring it home and get it in the house before her father wakes up so it’ll be there for Father’s Day.” She then stumbled through the next sentence. “I… I kind of… Well, I kind of promised her we’d help her pick it up.”
“OK,” I said, waiting for the other shoe to drop.
“We’re going to have to go over to her house at 5 AM. Don’t be upset, baby. She’s done a lot for us and I want to help her!”
“OK,” I said, already thinking about setting the alarm for 4 AM on Father’s Day.
Sunday arrives. The alarm rings at 4 AM. Groggily I take a shower and get dressed. The hot water doesn’t even begin to wake me up. We drive over to the friend’s house. When we arrive, all the lights are out at her house. Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The wife gets out the cell phone and calls. No answer on her friend’s cell phone. “I hate the idea of waking her father up, but I need to call her home number,” she says. Apparantly somebody answers because see tells me, “She overslept. She’ll be right out.”
I’m falling asleep in the car.
Eventually the friend comes out, carrying her 4-year old son and some other stuff. I’m not paying much attention. I’m just sleepy.
The missus tells me to get into her friend’s car. I comply. The friend puts the 4-year old in the back seat with me. He’s as sleepy as I am. While I note it, I don’t think anything of the fact that the friend’s mother and father are standing right there on the front step. I may have thought that the surprise for her dad must be ruined since he’s seeing her leave, but that was about it. I pay no attention to what the wife is doing as she’s putting things in the trunk.
We depart in the friend’s vehicle and head north. We reach the next town and continue heading north. After 15 minutes or so we have cleared the northern border of said next town. Wearily, I ask, “Where is this piece of furniture, in Falfurrias (about an hour away)? My wife turns around in the front seat.
“Actually, we’re not going to get a piece of furniture.”
“What are we doing then?”
“We’re going to Houston to see the Astros-Rangers game.”
“Yeah, right. Houston is six hours away.”
“I’m serious, baby. We’re going to Houston to see the Astros-Rangers game!”
“I can’t go to a game. I don’t have the right clothes to go to a ball game! I need a jersey and a cap”
“I already packed it. I can’t believe I pulled this off. You didn’t have a clue!”
She was right. I didn’t have a clue.
We drove six hours to Houston to what was still Enron Field at the time. On the way, I opened Father’s Day cards from my wife and our one remaining son at home. My son gave me a book on major league ballparks. When the 4-year old woke up we got acquainted. I was glad to talk to someone who was as clueless as I was.
We met up with a friend of the friend in front of the ballpark and took our seats, upper deck on the third base side. The Rangers started Darren Oliver against the Astros Scott Elarton. We scored a run in the top of the first on a Ruben Sierra sac fly, but the ‘stros came back in the bottom of the first with a solo shot by Craig Biggio.
Biggio struck again with his second homer of the game in the third inning. It stayed 2-1 Astros until the top of the 5th when Pudge Rodriguez knocked in a run with a single and Alex Rodriguez followed with a three-run shot to make it 5-2. A 9th inning sac fly by Bo Porter (who I don’t even remember) closed out the scoring and the Rangers won for me on Father’s Day 6-2.
After the game, we started filing out of the park. We were close to the wall looking out over the street and the 4-year-old accidentally drops his souvenier 12-inch bat over the side. Thank goodness it didn’t hit anyone! We drove home and I was back at work the next day following a one day 12-hour road trip with a three hour game in between.
While it was the first time I discovered that I don’t recover as quickly from one day road trips as I used to, it was an unforgettable Father’s Day surprise. Thanks, honey!
The Hot Stove League has begun and, if you know anything about the Texas Rangers, it is this: Whatever you’re hearing in terms of buzz, it’s mostly speculation. Because once the Rangers make a move, it tends to be a surprise to everyone.
Last year in the off-season, the speculation was whether Cliff Lee would re-sign with the Rangers. Texas put on a hard-court press to get Lee to re-up with them. That IS what was reported. What nobody saw coming was what followed losing out on the Lee sweepstakes: the trade with Toronto that brought Mike Napoli to Texas and the signing of Adrian Beltre to a 5-year contract when just about every media source pegged Beltre as going to the Angels.
Jon Daniels is a cagey GM who is constantly thinking three moves ahead. If Plan A doesn’t work out, Daniels already has Plans B, C and maybe even D in mind. He also has a penchant for hammering out double moves, such as two years ago when he shipped Kevin Millwood and much of his salary to the Baltimore Orioles and used the salary savings and immediately signed Rich Harden to a one-year deal.
With new ownership having deep pockets and a team that’s been to back-to-back World series, it’s inevitable the Rangers are considered to be in the mix for just about every free agent out there this off-season. Already, Texas is being mentioned as a suitor for Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder, two of the biggest names out there. It makes sense from the standpoint that first base is the Rangers’ weakest offensive position. I’m almost willing to bet we will NOT see Pujols or Fielder in a Rangers uniform.
Even with more money to work with (ownership has already as much as committed to a $100 million plus payroll in 2012), I’m pretty sure Daniels is smart enough to know it’s still all about spending money smartly and that doesn’t always translate into the big-dollar guys.
First, let’s take a look at the Rangers’ own free agents and the likelihood of being re-signed.
Endy Chavez: Chavez was a great comeback story, returning from two years of injuries to ably replace Julio Borbon when he went on the DL in May. Chavez probably did better in 2011 than Borbon would have had he not been injured. Still, Chavez is unlikely to return to the fold. The Rangers still have Craig Gentry as a back-up outfielder, Borbon will be back and Cuban defector Leonys Martin is already knocking ont he door waiting for his chance to roam center field. Good luck, Endy. Hope you get a good contract from someone.
Mike Gonzalez: The lefty was acquired from the Orioles and was on every Rangers post-season roster. Odds are pretty good Texas makes him an offer to stick around and, if Gonzalez wants a chance to win instead of the most dollars available, he’ll be glad to ink a new contract.
Darren Oliver: The Rangers’ designated LOOGY and the old man of the bullpen at 42, Oliver lives in Dallas and has indicated he’s leaning towards returning instead of retiring. If so, I’m positive he’ll re-up with Texas at a hometown discount to give himself one more shot at a World Championship.
Matt Treanor: I was a Treanor fan in 2010 and was happy when he came back for the stretch run in 2011. However, Treanor won’t be back unless Texas decides to part ways with Yorvit Torrealba, which I hope they don’t. Maybe he’ll sign a minor league deal with Texas, much like the one that brought him the Rangers way in 2010.
CJ Wilson: This is the multi-million dollar question. Will CJ come back or head for much greener pastures. Wilson is a West Coast guy, so speculation is rife for the Angels to be after him. Obviously the Yankees are going to be in the mix and will likely offer him the most money. Reports also have the Nationals interested, which I understand. He’d be a nice complementary piece to Strasbourg. I put the odds at 50-50 for Wilson to return. texas wants him back, but even with more money to play with, they don’t want CJ to break the bank.
That brings us to everyone else’s free agents. If Texas doesn’t go after Pujols or Fielder, who will they court? Here’s how I look at it. This year’s free agent class isn’t the strongest to begin with. In addition, Texas has VERY big decisions to make after the 2012 season, when Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, Michael Young and Colby Lewis can all walk away to other teams. I think the Rangers are going to play small ball this year in the free agent market, looking for bargains and trying to fill specific needs. With that in mind, here are a few under the radar types I think Texas could be very interested in.
Mark Buerhle: This would be the highest dollar guy Texas could go for. Buerhle is a proven innings eater who would fit in well with the rangers pitching staff. I don’t think texas would sign both Wilson and Buerhle, so I’d say if they don’t get Wilson, they put their cards on the table for Buerhle.
Octavio Dotel: If you can’t beat ‘em, get ‘em to sign with you. Dotel has a World Series ring, a high strikeout rate and would be a great ROOGY for the Rangers.
Casey Kotchman: This is one of the most intriguing names out there. If the Rangers aren’t sold on Mitch Moreland as the answer at first base, they could package him in a trade and sign Kotchman. He might not have the sock potential of Moreland but he’s a great defensive player at first with just enough pop to make for a good fit in the Rangers line-up.
Roy Oswalt: He has Texas ties, he’d be very popular with the fans. He also has a history of back issues and is no spring chicken at 34. There is a possibility Texas will go for him, but I don’t know if they’re willing to pay the dollars Oswalt probably wants.
Jose Reyes: I don’t think this will happen, but it would be a classic Daniels move to trade the popular Elvis Andrus and pick up one the game’s most exciting players. The only reason I don’t really see this happening is because teen phenom Jurickson Profar may only be a couple of years away from the bigs, so texas wouldn’t want to commit more than two years for Reyes.
Joel Zumaya: This is another prime Jon Daniels possibility: signing a former All-Star who’s had physical problems to a low dollar contract. If he comes back to close to his former self, it’s a great investment. If not, you’re not out a lot of money.
There are a few other names out there Texas could conceivably have interest in: Todd Coffey, Kerry Wood, Heath Bell, Jonathon Papelbon, Matt Capps and maybe Hiroki Kuroda. The ones above, though, are my best bets to get strong interest from Texas.
If there’s one thing one can discern from visiting Texas Rangers fan sites, it is this: Ron Washington is not good at in-game management. Saberists on a daily basis are pretty quick to point out every case in which Wash didn’t do things by “The Book”. Not the Bible, not the Baseball Rule Book. “The Book” by Tom Tango, Mitchel Lichtman and Andrew Dolphin, in which the authors make eloquent saber-based arguments for the best percentage plays in certain game circumstances. Even if fans disregarded “The Book”, they would find plenty of other Wash sins of omission or commission during the course of a game. Sometimes, I think some of them are just making things up to let their distaste for the manager be known.
One can only imagine, then, the number of fans ready to pillory Washington for some of his moves during Games 6 & 7 of the World Series. I understand the feeling. These two losses rank up there as the most painful losses in Texas Rangers history. We as fans also like to look for scapegoats when losses occur, find someone to blame. The manager, of course, is first on the firing line.
I really didn’t want to revisit the last two games of the 2011 World Series. The wound is still pretty fresh to me. To some, this post might come too long after the fact to keep your interest. I understand that, too, but I feel the need to talk about it after reading one article on one of the sites I read on a regular basis.
The author, a saber-oriented guy who also says he likes Wash, wrote he was still bugged about the moves he made in Games 6 & 7. I don’t totally disagree with every single one of them, but feel strongly enough about the main ones that I wanted to put it out there and see what anyone else thought.
Here are the Wash criticisms he had in Game 6:
1) Not hitting for Colby Lewis with the bases loaded in the 5th inning.
2) Bringing in Alexi Ogando with the sacks jammed in the 6th.
3) Replacing Neftali Feliz with Darren Oliver in the 10th.
4) Pinch-hitting Esteban German for Scott Feldman in the 11th and bringing Mark Lowe in.
The first item is the biggest for me. Even Tim McCarver was saying the same thing on the national broadcast: you’ve GOT to pinch-hit for Lewis in this situation. And yet I disagree with the contention. In fact,I thought this non-move by Wash was what very nearly won the Rangers the World Series. At the time, Texas was up 4-3 on the Cards. The Cards had tied the game at 3 in the 4th, but this is what should also have been noted at the time: Lewis had not given up a hit since the 1st inning! The Cards went three up and three down in the 2nd and 3rd and scored their run in the 4th without benefit of a hit on an error, a walk and two groundouts. Lewis was hardly struggling massively at this time. By not pinch-hitting for Lewis, the Rangers may have lowered their scoring chances in the 5th, but they also ended up getting almost two more innings of work out of Lewis, including a 1-2-3 fifth. Looking at what the bullpen subsequently did, in retrospect it was the right move as well.
Item 2: I understand the contention about bringing Ogando in, only because Alexi did not have a good World Series. I don’t believe he even had one good game, except for his Game 7 one pitch outing.
Item 3: Again, I have no earthly idea why this was such a controversial decision on Wash’s part. Sure, Feliz is your closer, but he also had just finished giving up two runs to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth. How many relievers get the chance to go out for another inning after they’d already blown the save once? Some could argue maybe this is so, but Wash should have brought in Mike Gonzalez instead of Darren Oliver because Gonzalez throws harder. I might agree, except this was potentially the clinching game of the World Series. I would want my most experienced guy out there, the one whose nerves are probably the least on edge. Unfortunately, it turned out to be the wrong choice, as Oliver picked a terrible time to have a bad game.
Item 4: Lastly there was the decision to pinch-hit for Feldman in the top of the 11th. Geez, first they take Wash to task for not pinch-hitting for the pitcher, then he gets it for pinch-hitting for the pitcher! Actually, I’m pretty sure the only reason Wash pinch-hit for his long reliever was because Nelson Cruz’ groin injury was enough to take him out of the game. I think Wash was hoping German could provide some offense to help put Texas on top again and get it over with quickly because he really didn’t have a decent right fielder if the game were to go on for a lot of innings. It was a calculated gamble that failed. As for bringing Lowe in for the 11th, it was either him or Gonzalez. There was no one else left in the bullpen.
Honestly, the Rangers didn’t lose Game 6 because of Wash. They lost it because in three distinct situations during the game, one of the Rangers made a poor decision in the field, a decision every single one of those players make correctly 999 times out of 1,000. Michael Young thought about going to second base instead of getting the sure out at first, bobbled the ball as a result of his indecision and failed to get anyone out; Elvis Andrus passed up a throw for a force-out at second to throw Matt Holliday out at first and Holliday beat the throw; and Nelson Cruz either misjudged the flight of the ball or where the wall was on David Freese’s game tying ninth inning triple. I don’t blame Wash at all for the Game 6 loss. I thought all in all, he managed the game pretty well.
Wash may not always make decisions by “The Book”, but I think he also has a much better grasp on what’s going on in the game than a lot of people give him credit for. I don’t agree with every decision Wash makes (for example, I would’ve let Mike Adams start the 9th inning. He pitched a solid 8th and it would’ve taken some of the pressure off Feliz), but I’ve also come to understand the whys of some of the decisions he does make and find myself agreeing with his reasons more often than not.
This post is getting extremely long, so I’ll give my follow-up on the Game 7 decisions this weekend.
Electric moments. 24 hours ago it was Derek Holland for 8 1/3 magnificent shutout innings. And it was Mike Napoli hitting a 3-run shot into the left field seats, tying the Series at two wins apiece.
24 hours later, two more electric moments. First it was Napoli again, this time becoming the first Ranger to stamp his claim on World Series MVP, sending a rocket to the wall between center and right for a bases loaded double, breaking a 2-2 deadlock in the 8th. Even more electric was Neftali Feliz in the 9th, facing Albert Pujols as the tying run at the plate, starting him out with an 0-2 count before falling behind 3-2. In one of those moments that will be forever etched in Texas Rangers history, Feliz got baseball’s most feared hitter to strike out on an outside fastball, followed by Napoli gunning down a running Allen Craig at second for a strike ‘em out-throw ‘em out twin killing. Only an event like this could make the last out that came two batters later seem anti-climactic in comparison.
Rangers manager Ron Washington often says it isn’t about who the best team is, it’s about who plays the best baseball. Game 5, in many respects, proved Washington wrong. It was the Cardinals who threatened inning after inning. It was the Cardinals who had the scoring opportunities and it was the Rangers who weren’t pitching well and early on were not fielding well either. In the end, though, it was the Rangers who ended up with the W. They made the most of the few scoring opportunities they had and buckled down when they had to to stifle Cardinals rallies.
CJ Wilson had something to prove in starting Game 5. The Rangers #1 starter had been ineffective throughout the playoffs. Many said the reason for his lack of success was his inability to throw his slider for strikes. Wilson reportedly said he’d discovered a mechanical flaw to explain it and he was ready for game 5. True to his word, Wilson’s command of his off-speed pitches was quite a bit better. Too bad he now had little command over his fastball. Wilson labored through 5+ innings. He walked five, only struck out three and was a victim of shoddy fielding by David Murphy, Mitch Moreland and himself. Yet all the Cardinals could do was plate two runs in the second inning off him. In the 6th, after laboring for over 110 pitches, Wilson was finally lifted, perhaps for the final time in a Rangers uniform, as his free agency looms. I hope Texas re-signs him, despite his poor post-season numbers this year, but if he leaves, I’m ready to accept that as well.
Back to the game. Texas got one back on a solo homer by Mitch Moreland, his first hit of the World Series. Another came home on an Adrian Beltre “Down On One Knee Special” over the left field wall.
Scott Feldman came on in the 6th for Texas and squirmed out of a two on predicament. Alexi Ogando had a strange 7th, escaping a bases loaded jam brought about by two intentional walks and a single. Ogando and Oliver tag teamed the 8th inning, with the Cards threatening once again, but not able to get the key hit.
Michael Young led off the critical Texas 8th with a double. Following a terrible Beltre at bat, a 3-pitch strikeout, Nelson Cruz was walked intentionally. David Murphy followed with a hard infield grounder that bounced off the pitcher and loaded the bases. Napoli became the hero with his game deciding double plating Young and Cruz. No matter the final outcome of the Series, you can bet Napoli is getting a hefty raise this off-season, much of which will be paid for by the increased sales of Mike Napoli jerseys at the Rangers Gift Shop!
All this was pre-ordained, by the way. After mentioning this in the previous post, it came to be. 18-Year-Ranger-Fan procured a ticket to Game 5 after being at game 4 the night before. The win now gives 18 an incredible 8-game winning streak on 2011 Rangers games attended! Now I’m trying to figure out how to get him to St. Louis for Wednesday’s game!
One game to go. One win away from seeing this fan’s 41-year quest for a World Series Championship for his team come to fruition at last.
Wednesday can’t come too soon, because I truly think it happens in Game 6.
Matt Harrison deserved so much better. In another edition of proving Ron Washington’s axiom “That’s the way baseball go”, Harrison actually didn’t pitch all that badly but ended up on the hook for the loss as the Cardinals pummeled the Rangers to take a 2-1 lead in the World Series.
Cardinals fans and sports viewers in general will take Albert Pujols’ three majestic homers as the story of the game. Majestic as they were, all three came after the Cardinals were ahead, so I wouldn’t say they were key to the victory. Impressive, yes. Key, no.
What opened the floodgates was a bad call by an umpire. On a double play grounder, Ian Kinsler’s throw to Mike Napoli was wide of the bag at first. Still, Napoli caught the ball and slapped the tag on Matt Holliday’s back a full stride before he stepped on the bag. Unfortunately for Texas, this was totally missed by the first base umpire. To be fair, pitchers have to learn to shake off bad calls like this and Harrison didn’t. He got rattled and the next thing you know, a 1-0 Cardinals lead had turned into a 5-0 lead and Harrison was out of the game.
Not a single Rangers reliever came out of the rest of the game unscathed. Scott Feldman, Alexi Ogando, Mike Gonzalez, Mark Lowe and Darren Oliver all had at least one run charged to them as St. Louis, and Pujols in particular, kept the punishment going to the end. I was a little surprised the Rangers didn’t intentionally walk Pujols on the at bat where he got his second dinger, but I guess Washington felt the Cards were already up by a substantial margin so they might as well try to pitch to him.
The Rangers tried to make a game of it after falling behind by five. They scored three in the fourth, chasing Kyle Lohse and making it 5-3. The Cardinals added three in the top of the 5th to make it 8-3. Texas closed to within 8-6 in the bottom of the 5th, but the Redbirds added four more in the top of the sixth to make it 12-6. The game was effectively over at that point.
I can handle a defeat. What really chapped me as a Rangers fan is this was a loss that featured atypical Rangers baseball. Ian Kinsler, who had the best defensive season of his career in 2011 had his second error of the series on an easy grounder, plus the wide throw at first that resulted in the blown call. Elvis Andrus, whose errors are mostly of the throwing variety, had a boot on another easy grounder.
Meanwhile, Harrison looked like the regular season Matt Harrison from the start, the first inning home run off him notwithstanding. Harry was under control, fluid in his motion, had good stuff, everything that portended an extended inning start until the disaster of the fourth inning hit.
The Texas offense finally came alive, but it was always in a come from behind effort. Worse, they let the Cardinals bullpen off the hook by not making them burn through more of their bullpen tonight. Now it’s the Texas bullpen in trouble for the next two games, as only Mike Adams and Neftali Feliz sat out the game.
Once again the Rangers find themselves on the ropes. It’s up to Derek Holland to turn the tide on Sunday.
I do not want the Texas Rangers to become known as the Buffalo Bills of Major League Baseball. Time to turn it around.
Tiger fans, I know you’re disappointed. I would be too. But whether my team was down 3-1 or up 3-1 right now, I think we can all agree on one thing:This may be one of the most incredible ALCS’s ever. Yes, EVER!
Every game has been tense. Two have gone to extra innings. Both teams have had their chances. There have been clutch hits. Clutch defensive plays. Clutch pitching. This series has had it all and it’s only because my team is up 3-1 that you’re not hearing about me going to the ER suffering from hypertension.
My goodness, what a Game 4. From the two-hour plus rain delay before getting the darn thing started to the masterful early performance of Rick Porcello to Michael Young breaking out of a prolonged slump to knock in the first go-ahead run of the game for the Rangers and every nail-biting moment in between.
There was Alexi Ogando, a killer throughout the playoffs, one out away from two more strong shutout innings of work when Brandon Inge took an 0-2 pitch and deposited it in the left field seats to tie the game at 3. There was Miguel Cabrera, on third base in the bottom of the 8th, taking off for home on a fly to medium depth right, only to see Nelson Cruz throw a perfect one-bounce strike to the plate, allowing Mike Napoli to deny Cabrera the go-ahead run.
Napoli wasn’t done, either. In the 9th, he faced off against former Ranger Joaquin Benoit in a memorable at bat. For nine pitches, both pitcher and batter took turns staring each other down, calling time outs to try to mess with the other’s head. Good pitches were fouled off. Benoit finally won the battle, but what an AB.
In the bottom of the 9th, one of the Tigers returned the favor and even made it better. This time it was Ramon Santiago, battling Darren Oliver through a 13-pitch at bat, before Oliver finally coaxed a fly ball to center field for the out.
There was Napoli again in the tenth, throwing a perfect strike to Ian Kinsler, who swiped the tag down on Austin Jackson for a caught stealing, snuffing out a potential Tigers rally.
And, for a fourth time, it was Napoli again, with Josh Hamilton on second and Adrian Beltre at first, flaring a single to center off Jose Valverde that scored Hamilton with what proved to be the winning run. Nelson Cruz will get all the print for the three-run boomstick Cruz missile that followed Napoli’s hit, putting the game out of reach, but die-hard baseball fans know what the key hit was.
This was such an important win for the Rangers. Had they lost tonight and allowed the Tigers to tie the series at two, Texas would be feeling the massive pressure of having to face Justin Verlander tomorrow with the chance of being down 3-2. Now they have three games to win just one, two of which are scheduled for Rangers Ballpark in Arlington and Verlander will only pitch one of those games.
Less than 18 hours away from Game 5. I can’t even imagine what these two teams have in store as an encore to tonight’s classic.
Quite frankly, I didn’t realize that Doug Fister had something against Adrian Beltre.
It sure looked that way in Game 3 of the ALCS. Beltre, known as Belt Three for his three home run performance against the Rays in the clinching game of the ALDS, this time belted three again- this time they were all against his body, leaving the All-Star 3rd baseman battered and bruised by the end of the game.
In his first at bat, Beltre fouled off one Fister pitch into his left shin. One at bat later came a shot off the left leg again, this time right above the knee. At this point he was obviously in pain, but he still took his position at third. In his final at bat of the night, this time against Jose Valverde, Beltre managed to hit yet another foul ball, this time glancing off the back of his right foot. A day earlier, his sharp grounder to first would have been beaten out for an infield hit. Instead he hobbled to the bag, easily beaten by Miguel Cabrera for the game’s penultimate out.
At one point during the game, a 1-1 tie at the time, I tweeted that the Rangers had six hits, the Tigers three, but Doug Fister was looking like the better pitcher. Words that turned out being prophetic. Once the Tigers went up 2-1, it just felt like the Rangers had to pray to tie things up and let the bullpens take over because otherwise Fister wasn’t showing any signs of letting them do a thing off him offensively.
Texas was the first to score, but it only illustrates how special a no-hitter is for a pitcher. Ian Kinsler hit a sharp single on the first pitch of the game. For the first six innings it turned out to be the hardest hit the Rangers would have. Two more hits followed by Elvis Andrus and Josh Hamilton. Andrus’ was an infield chopper in just the right place and Hamilton’s was a soft line drive that barely eluded a leaping Jhonny Peralta’s glove to plate Kinsler.
They weren’t terribly good hits because Fister was masterful in getting his pitches in on the Rangers hitters, sawing them off and inducing weak grounders and pops. Fister was brutal against Beltre as described earlier.
Back in July, with the trade deadline approaching, I opined on another website that maybe the Rangers’ first trade deadline deal would be for Fister. It never materialized but it turned out to be the best deal the Tigers made. Fister was 3-12 for the offensively inept Seattle Mariners, but his overall stat line was much better than his record indicated. Once he got to Detroit, he became an 8-1 pitcher down the stretch. And he’s under Detroit’s control for at least the next three years. Great pick-up for them.
The best that can be said for Texas is they didn’t have to use most of their main bullpen pieces. Koji Uehara relieved Lewis, gave up another home run and pretty much ensured he won’t be trusted with a World Series roster spot if the club gets that far. Uehara has been awful since coming over from Baltimore and I foresee an off-season trade in his future. Darren Oliver was solid again and Yoshinori Tateyama got his first post-season taste. But Mike Adams and Neftali Feliz weren’t needed, giving them valuable rest for today’s day game. The Tigers, on the other hand, used both Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde for a second straight game, putting their availability in jeopardy for today’s Game 4.
Fister shut the Rangers down. More power to him. My feeling is Rick Porcello can’t duplicate the feat today.
For the Rangers, Matt Harrison needs to do what no Rangers starter has been able to do thus far this series- pitch six innings. The Tigers are as beat up right now as Beltre was last night, with Victor Martinez now joining the walking wounded for the Motor City crew. Harry needs to take advantage of it.
It was bound to happen. It is for the Texas Rangers and the Texas Rangers only that I can record a game and play it back from the start and watch it straight through without giving in to the temptation of fast forwarding or going on-line to find out what happened.
On the drive home from work, I kept switching from one XM music station to another, going from the 80′s on 8 to the 70′s on 7 to the 60′s on 6. Even then, a mere quarter of a block from home, the announcer broke in and said “The Texas Rangers are playing the Tampa Bay Rays right now…” I just managed to turn down the volume in time.
I took the time to walk the dogs, then I settled in at about 5:30 PM CDT to watch Game 3.
Colby Lewis was outstanding. David Price was outstanding. When Lewis gave up a lead-off home run in the top of the 4th, I was crestfallen. I didn’t like the idea of the Rangers being down when Price was on his game. Lewis, however, continued to pitch a great game, giving up only the home run as a hit. When the game went to the 7th still at 1-0, I knew Texas had a chance to pull it out.
Sure enough, in the top of the 7th, Mike Napoli deposited a pitch over the left center fence with Adrian Beltre on base to put Texas in the lead, 2-1. Later in the inning, Josh Hamilton would hit a single to right to plate two more runs to make it 4-1. The entire inning took close to a half hour.
The bottom of the 7th would prove tense. Darren Oliver came on and, with one out, proceeded to give up three straight hits to load the bases. Goodbye Oliver, hello Alexi Ogando. A ground out brought home the Rays’ second run, but Ogando got out of the jam with no further damage.
In the 8th, it was time for ace set-up man Mike Adams. Except today, he wasn’t an ace, he was barely a deuce. Desmond Jennings hit his second home run of the night to lead off the 8th, making it 4-3. Adams would labor through close to 30 pitches just to get one out, and he left with runners on first and second, the tying run on 2nd. Mike Gonzalez came in and struck out Johnny Damon. Ron Washington did something he doesn’t often do: he brought in Neftali Feliz in the 8th to go for a 4-out save.
Feliz came in and, on his second pitch, uncorked a wild one that now sent the tying run to third and the go-ahead run to second. the rays started getting their closer, Kyle Farnsworth, warmed up. The situation was as tense as it could be. And then…
Then my DVR stopped!!! The game had already gone for its allotted 3 1/2 hours and it would show no more. Unfortunately for me, it was no longer 7:30 PM. It was now 8:15 PM.
Yes, in what I am told was one of the greatest games ever played by the Texas Rangers, I missed the last four outs!!! I had to go to my phone to find out Feliz had gotten out of the 8th inning jam. And he got out of a 9th inning jam as well, getting a double play to end the game and seal the Rangers’ 4-3 win.
All my preparations. All the making sure nobody tells me anything about the game so I can see it for myself. Everything was all set for me and I MISS THE ENDING!!!
You might tell me I would have been grateful to miss it if the Rays had come back and run. That will not make me feel any differently. The only thing that eases my mind a little is at least it wasn’t the deciding game, making me miss the celebration on the field.
Tuesday now brings a quandary: Do I record a 2 PM CDT game and close my ears for 3 1/2 hours before viewing it or do I turn the audio feed on in the office, even though I have a meeting that will take me away from the game for a half hour?
Tough decision. No answer right now.
Yesterday the rumor mills were ablaze with possibilities of Lance Berkman joining the Rangers.
24 hours later, two deals DID happen, all to provide the Texas Rangers with insurance as we head closer and closer to the post-season.
Texas re-acquired Matt Treanor from the Kansas City Royals, apparently in a straight cash transaction. Treanor was a key member of the 2010 AL Champions who filled in valiantly when Jarrod Saltalamacchia fell out of favor with the organization and Taylor Teagarden struck out more than he put wood on the ball. Treanor was the Rangers’ regular catcher until the acquisition of Bengie Molina. Treanor’s a grinder who gets the utmost from his talent, which is major league minimal, but he’s a great influence in the clubhouse, he’ll work a pitcher for long at-bats and is familiar with the pitching staff. Treanor probably will sniff a Rangers post-season roster only if Mike Napoli or Yorvit Torrealba suffer a late-season injury. Meanwhile, he’ll be able to provide them with the occasional rest day down the stretch.
Acquisition #2 is Orioles southpaw relief pitcher Mike Gonzalez. Again, this is just an insurance policy for the most part. Gonzalez will serve as a left-handed specialist for the next month. He will only make the post-season roster if A) Darren Oliver gets hurt; or B) if the team they’re facing in the playoffs is particularly vulnerable against lefthanders. Otherwise, maybe he’ll make Koji Uehara feel more comfortable being a Ranger, since they were teammates just a month ago. Gonzalez was acquired for the very popular Player To Be Named Later.
Two deals giving the Rangers for post-season options. Now all they have to do is make it to the post-season.
The same could be said about the Texas Rangers-Cleveland Indians series that concluded Sunday night with a 5-3 Rangers win. Every game of the series was decided in the late innings and every time the winning team came from behind to win the game.
Saturday’s game was as cruel an outcome for the Rangers as Friday night’s game was for the Indians. The final score wasn’t even indicative of the pitcher’s duel it was. CJ Wilson and Fausto Carmona matched 0′s for 6 innings before the Tribe finally came through with a 3-spot in the 7th, courtesy of a double, a balk and an error. Not to be outdone, the Rangers came back in their half of the 7th with 4 runs of their own on an error, a single and a sacrifice fly.
With a 4-3 lead in the top of the 9th, Neftali Feliz came on for his third appearance in as many nights. He was effective the first two nights. The third time wasn’t the charm. Cleveland scored two off Feliz to take a 5-4 lead. Then Yoshinori Tateyama came on and gave up a 2-run homer to make it 7-4. Indians closer Chris Perez, who blew the save and the game Friday night, closed it out this time, although he still gave up a run and had the winning run at the plate in Michael Young before nailing it down. All in all, not a great end to an evening that began with Kenny Rogers being inducted in the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame.
Enter Sunday’s rubber game. Like Friday, the Rangers had no hope of winning this one. The Indians’ Josh Tomlin had Texas hitters bamboozled all night long, giving up nothing but weak hits and an occasional walk through seven innings. Colby Lewis pitched one of his better games of late, but found himself training 3-0 when Darren Oliver replaced him with one out in the 8th.
In the bottom of the 8th, Tomlin appeared to be wearing out, not surprising considering the triple digit temps at the start of the game (BTW Saturday’s game started with a Rangers Ballpark in Arlington record 106 degrees!). After a walk to Mike Napoli and a hard single by Mitch Moreland (the only hard hit ball off Tomlin all night) to lead off the inning, Tomlin was replaced by Joe Smith, he of the 1.23 ERA.
What ensued rivaled Friday’s game for amazement. Yorvit Torrealba singled to load the bases. Pinch hitter David Murphy singled to bring home the first run, making it 3-1. Still nobody out. Ian Kinsler then walked, bringing home the second run. 3-2, still nobody out. Elvis Andrus singled, plating two runs. Rangers in the lead, 4-3. Still nobody out. Josh Hamilton finally hit into a forceout for the first out of the game. It also plated the fifth and final run. Rangers headed into the 9th with a 5-3 lead after doing virtually nothing the previous seven innings of the game.
This time, Feliz wouldn’t be making his fourth appearance in as many nights. The save opportunity went to newly acquired Mike Adams, who not only retired the Indians quietly on 7 pitches, every single one of them was a strike.
Texas knew the Angels had already won when play started Sunday night. They were staring at being tied for the AL West lead. Once again, they dug down deep and found what they needed to do to maintain that slim one game lead.
Sunday’s game also brought about a milestone. Michael Young got his 2000th major league hit, all with the Rangers. You always want the milestone hits to be memorable- a home run, a game winning double, whatever. Not Michael. Both hit #1999 and #2000 were virtually identical- slow dribblers down the third base line that were beaten out for infield singles. They weren’t pretty but they got the job done.
One other note: Adrian Beltre will be out three more weeks. He was testing his hamstring Saturday in a baserunning session and reaggravated the hammy, so Young will remain the Rangers 3rd baseman for a while longer.
Weird thought of the day: While the Rangers host Seattle for the next three games, the pennant race dictates I do something I am usually loathe to do: I’m hoping the Yankees win their next three games. Yep, the Evil Empire is facing off against the Angels. Texas needs some more breathing room in the West and this is one of the best opportunities they’ll have the rest of the season to get it.