Results tagged ‘ Joe Nathan ’
This year’s promotional campaign for Texas is “Hello Win Column!”, the tag line that used to accompany every Rangers win when the late Mark Holtz was the radio voice of the Rangers. In conjunction with the theme, the Rangers this year are running a series of promos that ask, “What did YOU do to help the Rangers win?” The first promo includes two guys saying they dropped Matt Harrison and Adrian Beltre from their respective fantasy teams. That explains the Harrison complete game and Beltre game-winning home run.
I would like to nominate myself for the next “What did YOU do…” promo for the role I played in Monday night’s Rangers win over the Los Angeles Angels. What did I do? I stayed true to this year’s promise of being an old man and not staying up for the whole game when Texas plays on the West Coast. I turned in for the night right after the Angels blew it open with three runs in the bottom of the sixth to take a 6-3 lead on Texas. What happened after I retired? Texas just went and scored three runs in the top of the seventh. Capping off the comeback, Rangers catcher A.J. Pierzynski did this to Ernesto Frieri in the top of the 9th:
Joe Nathan took care of business in the bottom of the 9th and “HELLO WIN COLUMN!”
Rangers officials, you can reach me here or on Twitter (@RangersBlogger) and we can set up a date for me to shoot the next promo. You’re welcome.
Before the game, someone asked me what I expected out of Nick Tepesch in his major league debut with the Texas Rangers. I said I’d be happy if he managed to achieve a line of 5-8-4-4-1-2. After all, the kid has all of one start at the AAA level and that was last week. So I’ve got to say Tepesch walked three guys and I said I’d be happy with a line that included one, so that was a little disappointing.
Other than that, Tepesch exceeded my expectations in every way. He didn’t strike out two, he K’d five. He didn’t give up 8 hits, he gave up only four. He didn’t give up four runs, he only allowed one Ray to cross the plate. And he didn’t go five innings, he got one out into the 8th. Oh, and he picked up his first major league victory 6-1.
I don’t want to go too overboard on Tepesch’s debut and extrapolate a Hall of Fame career for the guy based on one start. After all, Justin Grimm pitched a lights out game for Texas last year in his debut after being called up from AA Frisco and every subsequent start he had brought poor results. Grimm, however, faced the hapless Houston Astros in his 2012 debut. Tepesch was facing a veteran, savvy, potential playoff team in the Tampa Bay Rays. Outside of the third inning hiccup in which the lone run scored and all three of his walks came, Tepesch was a machine.
It wasn’t until his last inning that the Rays had a fly ball out. If it wasn’t a strikeout, everything was being hit on the ground. Fourteen groundouts to one fly ball. Outstanding.
Even better from an overall Rangers perspective, Tepesch saved a Rangers bullpen from overwork. After having four different relievers throw a lot of pitches in Monday’s series opener, it was a pretty safe bet that only three relievers would be available for Tepesch’s start and closer Joe Nathan wouldn’t be one of them.
No problem. Only two were needed and the first, Robbie Ross, only needed six pitches to get through 2/3 of an inning.
What a great debut. A win in convincing fashion and giving his team their third consecutive series win to begin the season. So yeah, I’m feeling a bit Tepesch this morning. I imagine most Rangers fans are feeling the same way.
- Nick Tepesch strong in debut, Rangers top Rays 6-1 (seattletimes.com)
- Cool Nick Tepesch delivers in impressive major-league debut for Rangers (miamiherald.com)
- Tepesch shines in debut as Rangers top Rays (scores.espn.go.com)
The Rays had the tying run on second. Ben Zobrist was at the plate with a full count. Joe Nathan was on the mound, sweat appearing on his face as he was laboring in his attempt at his 300th career save. Nursing a 5-4 lead, a hit could tie the game, a walk would put two runners on for Evan Longoria. Nathan needed the perfect pitch to get out of the jam and avoid facing the dangerous Longoria. He didn’t get it.
It didn’t matter, though. In one of the most shocking game-ending calls in recent memory, the pitch that sailed wide and low was inexplicably called a strike by home plate umpire Marty Foster, sending the Rangers home with a tense 5-4 win and Rays manager Joe Maddon out of the dugout, a look of anger, incredulity and desperation on display for all the stadium and TV audience to see.
All I could tweet was “Wow.” For anyone whose allegiance belongs to the Tampa Bay Rays, know this: Every single Rangers fan I follow on Twitter who commented on this game had the same opinion. It was nice to go home with the win, but that last call was flat-out wrong.
Below is the Brooks Baseball.net Strikezone Plot from last night’s game. If I’m not mistaken, in the chart on the left, that square red dot on the lower left is the strike three call on Zobrist that ended the game. Not even close to the strike zone. To be fair, if you check out the chart on the right, it seems a couple of right-handed Rangers hitters were victims of Foster’s strike zone earlier in the game. But they weren’t game-enders like this one was.
As Zobrist said after the game, it’s a long season and calls like that just happen sometimes, but both teams have post-season aspirations. If the Rangers make the playoffs by just one game or the Rays get knocked out of the playoffs by just one game, this game WILL brought up again.
In the world of baseball, games can be protested but not on an umpire’s judgement call. There was a story from baseball’s past I recall from my youth that applies here. I don’t remember the people involved, but a manager was protesting the strike call by the umpire. After a heated exchange, the ump finally said, “It may have been a ball yesterday and it may be a ball tomorrow, but right now, it’s a strike!”
Rays fans, I feel your pain today. All I can say is you have a point. It won’t change the final score, but you do have a point.
Ballplayers get at least three months off between end of season and start of spring training. I took three and a half weeks off between blog posts. Am I rested? I don’t know. Am I in shape for the 2013 season? Absolutely not!
I vegged out over the past three and a half weeks. I thought about posting some thoughts but I just couldn’t pull the trigger. I spent more time playing with my Christmas presents than I did looking into the minutia of Texas Rangers baseball.
Most common statement I’ve heard from non-Rangers brethren since the off-season began and, more specifically, since Josh Hamilton signed with the Angels: “Bet it’s going to be hard to watch the Rangers this year. They’re going backwards.”
I agree it seems the Rangers have gone backwards going into 2013. Gone are Hamilton, Michael Young, Mike Napoli, Mike Adams, Koji Uehara and Ryan Dempster. Colby Lewis and Neftali Feliz won’t be any help until the second half of the season at the earliest. Coming on board? Joakim Soria, who’s also disabled until after the All-Star break. Lance Berkman, who was limited by injury to less than 100 at bats in 2012. New bullpen pieces in Jason Frasor and Josh Lindblom. A new catcher in AJ Pierzynski. Not exactly a group that’s going to make you forget Hamilton, Young, Napoli, Adams and Uehara, right?
And yet, and yet. I am possibly looking forward to 2013 as much as I looked forward to 2010, when I began this corner of the webiverse chronicling a team that, for the first time in a decade, was possibly going to contend for a title. That team exceeded my expectations and made it to the World Series. And while I harbor no illusions of the 2013 squad being in the Fall Classic, I won’t totally discount the possibility either.
I am looking forward to seeing what the infusion of youth does for this team. Whether the names Leonys Martin, Mike Olt and Jurickson Profar will become as well-known to baseball fans as Josh Hamilton and Michael Young were for the past few years. I can’t wait to see if Yu Darvish builds on a successful rookie campaign to become a bona fide ace. Whether Derek Holland can put a pedestrian 2012 behind him and progress to be at the very least an above average #3 starter. I want to see if new hitting coach Dave Magadan transforms Texas from a team of sluggers to hitters who work counts and put pressure on the pitcher. Will the Rangers running game improve and will baserunning coach Gary Pettis be able to effectively do his job from the third base coaches box instead of his usual first base box? Will Berkman stay healthy enough to impact the team? Is Nelson Cruz going to rebound from a so-so 2012 both offensively and defensively to be the presence he was in 2010 and 2011? Can the new bullpen pieces quickly coalesce into a unit that consistently delivers a lead to Joe Nathan in the 9th?
Most important of all, how will Ron Washington handle the youth movement? Wash took a lot of flak last year for staying with his veterans, especially Michael Young, while Olt and Profar languished on the bench in September. And if he gets all the young guys to perform at a high level and the Rangers continue to compete for a division title, will he finally get some consideration for Manager of the Year?
OK, so Texas didn’t get Zack Greinke. Or Justin Upton. Or Hamilton. Or Napoli. Or James Shields, Josh Johnson, R.A. Dickey, Travis D’Arnaud and J.P. Arencibia, all of whom Jon Daniels kicked the tires on during the off-season. Nor does it appear that Kyle Lohse or Michael Bourn are Arlington bound. Yet I’m excited about the 2013 season.
Pierzynski and Berkman aren’t sexy signings, but the two of them have something the rest of the team doesn’t have- a World Series champion ring. I bet that counts for something, including what impact their work ethic might have on Olt, Profar and Martin.
For sure, this is a team with flaws. Just 20 days from Spring Training and there’s no clue who will be the utility infielder or fifth outfielder. It’s anyone’s guess who will be in the bullpen besides Nathan and Frasor. The fifth starter for the rotation has yet to be determined and none of the names in contention are likely to strike fear in the average major league line-up.
What gets me excited is this. If Wash can keep this team in contention through the All-Star break, the second half will see Feliz and Soria returning to the pen and Colby Lewis to the starting rotation. That would make for an intriguing stretch run.
Too bad it’s still 20 days from pitchers and catchers reporting and 66 days til Opening Day at Houston.
It sounded so easy entering the weekend. Win one game and the Angels are eliminated as an AL West title winner. Get a little help from the Mariners and two wins and the season-ending trip to Oakland is meaningless. Yet when 6 PM CDT came around, not only was the team with the AL’s best record not any closer to those goals, they were staring at the distinct possibility of having to win two of three at Oakland to win the West and possibly being in a position to not even make the playoffs at all.
When the weekend started, the magic number for the Rangers was 3 to win the West and only 1 to eliminate the Angels from title consideration. Friday night, the series against the Angels started out well enough, even with the Angels throwing their ace Jered Weaver at them. Ryan Dempster gave up a first inning run, and while the Rangers weren’t scoring right away, neither was Weaver putting them away. The Rangers had runners at first and second with one out in the second, but couldn’t plate a run. Dempster gave up a second run in the third, but was still showing glimpses of being able to go deep in the game. Another run in the 4th made it 3-0 Angels, but Texas responded in the bottom of the inning to make it 3-1. The game was still within reach.
A 4th run in the 6th chased Dempster, but it was still only 4-1. It was the 7th when things got out of hand. Robbie Ross surrendered a 3-spot, making it 6-1. Even though Texas got home runs late from Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz, the game was out of reach. LA took Game 1 7-4. Meanwhile, the A’s beat the Mariners, narrowing the Rangers lead in the West to 3 games. Magic number remains 3 and 1.
Saturday the rains came. Waiting as long as they could, the Rangers went four hours past the scheduled starting time before finally calling a rain-out and scheduling a day-night doubleheader for Sunday. It sure looked like the Mariners were going to hand the Rangers an assist, as they headed into the 9th with a 4-2 lead on the A’s. Oakland, though, tied the game on a home run in the 9th and a 3-run shot in the 10th ended it. Magic numbers remain at 3 and 1. Oakland now pulls within 2 1/2 games.
Game 1 of the twin bill featured a rematch from a week and a half before: Yu Darvish vs. Zack Greinke. The first time they met, a Beltre homer in the top of the 9th handed the Rangers a 2-1 win in Anaheim. This time, Texas reached Greinke early when a Nelson Cruz missile to left gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead. The Angels answered with a run in the 3rd, but RBI from Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre made it 4-1 after 3. After the 3rd, Greinke found out his name was misspelled on his game jersey. Once he got that fixed, he was lights out the rest of the way.
Darvish, meanwhile, wasn’t as sharp as he’d been his previous six outings, but was getting outs when he needed to. The Angels added single runs in the 6th and 7th to make it 4-3, leaving the win in the capable hands of the Rangers’ late-inning bullpen. Alexi Ogando got 4 outs to bring us to Joe Nathan time in the 9th. Nathan had blown only two saves all season. After a 1-out single-walk sequence, Nathan buckled Mike Trout with a strike 3 swinging. Two outs. Got it in the bag, right? Wrong. Torii Hunter hit a gap double to left, scoring two runs and making it 5-4 Angels. Three outs later, LA had their second straight win. A couple of hours later, Oakland swept the Mariners to pull within a game and a half. Magic numbers still 3 and 1.
Going into the nightcap, the simple truth was if Texas lost, Oakland would be just a game behind and Texas would have to win two of three on the road to win the West. A tall order. Lose two of three, lose the West. Lose three of three and possibly miss the playoffs. Game 2 was a must win.
Derek Holland got the start and promptly gave up four runs in the first to put Texas in a 4-0 hole. The abyss was visible and the Rangers were ready to fall into it. They got a run back in the first to make it 4-1, then added two more on back to back home runs from David Murphy and Mike Napoli to make it 4-3. Holland was gritty after the first, retiring seven straight at one point to keep it within reach. In the third, back to back singles put Rangers on first a second. After a force made it two away, Napoli unloaded his second bomb of the night, a 3-run shot to make it 6-4 Rangers. Holland gave up hits but no more runs. In the 6th, Napoli would add a 2-run double to make it 8-4, giving him 6 RBI on the night. Everything looked like it was in the bag and going back the Rangers way. Not so fast.
In the 7th, Holland gave up back to back singles with one out. After getting the second out, Dutch served up a treat to Howie Kendrick, a 3-run shot to left that cut the lead to 8-7 and sent Holland to the showers. Here we go again. Robbie Ross got the last out of the inning.
The 8th belonged to Koji Uehara. It took 23 tense pitches, but Uehara struck out the side in the 8th. Koji has now pitched 9.1 innings of 1-hit ball with 16 strikeouts over his last 12 appearances. Top of the 9th, guess who’s back? Joe Nathan. Fresh off blowing the save in Game 1, he had a chance at redemption.
Nathan got Albert Pujols to pop out. Then he walked Torii Hunter. That’s how the blown save started in Game 1, with a 1-out walk. On an 0-2 pitch, Mark Trumbo sent a shot into right field, but right at Nelson Cruz. Two outs. With an 0-1 count, Nathan then got pinch hitter Kendrys Morales to foul out in a play in which Mike Napoli and Mike Olt nearly collided. The win was finally secured.
The Angels can no longer win the West mathematically (they couldn’t anyway because of the Rangersd and A’s playing each other in the final 3 games but that’s beside the point). The magic number is down to 2. Either Oakland or Texas will win the West. If Texas wins 1 game, it’s the Rangers. If Oakland sweeps, it’s the A’s. The only way the Angels can make the playoffs is for them to win their last three while the Rangers sweep Oakland. Not likely.
I truly lost some of the belief in my team after the 5-4 loss in Game 1 of the doubleheader today. The Rangers helped me get some of it back in Game 2 and clinched their third consecutive playoff berth in the process.
One more win, guys. You can do it.
Here’s a wrap-up of the week that was in Texas Rangers baseball. All stats listed are just for the previous week of play.
Rangers Record: 3-3
Overall: 90-62 (1st Place AL West) (+4)
Jalapeno Hot (Offense): Mike Napoli .417/.500/1.000 1 2b 2 HR 3 RBI
Raspa Cold (Offense): Elvis Andrus .167/.167/.250
Jalapeno Hot (Pitching): Scott Feldman 0.00 ERA 5 K in 3 IP
Joe Nathan 0.00 ERA, 2 Saves 3K in 3 IP
Raspa Cold (Pitching): Ryan Dempster 1-1, 6.30 ERA, 7 ER in 10 IP
In what could have been a better week, the Rangers were 3-3, taking two of three on the road at Los Angeles, but then losing two of three to Seattle, including a 1-0 heartbreaker on Saturday. The Rangers did put another game of space between themselves and the second place A’s, who were 2-4 for the week, but a 5 game lead was definitely attainable if not for the moribund offense. The Angels gained a game in the standings, thanks to their weekend sweep of the White Sox, but it would take a miracle for the Angels to win the West at this point. A Wild Card bid is their best hope and they have a bit of ground to make up in their last nine games to get there.
Tonight the Rangers can start putting the West away. Seven games await at home this week: three this weekend with the Angels and a 4-game set starting tonight with Oakland. Normally, I would lay out the games behind scenario from worst to best and say after Thursday night’s game, the Rangers lead will be 0, 2, 4, 6 or 8. Now there are magic numbers involved, so I’ll do the reverse. After the series conclusion on Tuesday, the Rangers magic number will be 7, 5, 3, 1 or 0. Win three of four of the set and they’ve clinched at least a tie with 6 games to go. Get a 4-game sweep and it’s all over.
Josh Hamilton returns to the line-up tonight, after missing the last four games due to vision problems. Hamilton originally thought it was due to sinus issues. Turns out he’s been hitting the sodas and energy drinks too hard. The caffeine OD has caused his blurred vision due to causing his corneas to dry up. Yet another thing for Hamilton to have to give up.
10 games remain. The first goal is in sight. I think it will be attained by week’s end.
Here’s a wrap-up of the week that was in Texas Rangers baseball. All stats listed are just for the previous week of play.
Rangers Record: 4-2
Overall: 87-59 (1st Place AL West) (+3)
Jalapeno Hot (Offense): Adrian Beltre .368/.478/.842 3 HR, 4 RBI, 4 Walks, 8 Runs Scored
Michael Young (Believe It Or Not!) .500/.583/.600 2 Doubles, 3 RBI, 4 Walks
Raspa Cold (Offense): Geovany Soto .077/.188/.154 (But Walked Twice and had 3 RBI!)
Jalapeno Hot (Pitching): Yu Darvish 1-0, 1.29 ERA, 9 K’s in 7 IP, 0.57 WHIP
Matt Harrison 2-0, 1.88 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 11 K’s in 14.1 IP
Raspa Cold (Pitching): Scott Feldman 20.25 ERA, 3.38 WHIP, 6 ER in 2.2 IP
Coming home for a week against the Indiands and Mariners, the Rangers went a respectable 4-2, although Joe Nathan‘s first blown save since April kept them from being 5-1. That allowed the still hot A’s to pick up half a game on the week when they went 5-2 against the Angels and Orioles. Los Angeles is still officially in the race, but if Texas were to go .500 the rest of the way, the Angels would have to finish 15-0 just to tie for the Division title. The best the Angels can hope for now would be a Wild Card spot. There’s no doubt if the Rangers are to win the West a third straight time, they will have earned it. Only 16 games remain on the schedule: 3 against the Mariners, 6 against the Angels and 7 against the A’s. This week it’s Los Angeles and Seattle on the road for three games each. After the Rangers series, the Angels host the White Sox for 3 games. Meanwhile the A’s hit the road all week, facing the Tigers and the Yankees. The schedule this week favors the Rangers.
One is one of the AL’s best pitchers in 2012 and will barely get a whisper of consideration for the Cy Young Award. The other was a trade that didn’t go well for the Rangers a year ago. Both pitchers were nails in Sunday, allowing the Texas Rangers to get a little more breathing room against the hard-charging Oakland A’s.
Matt Harrison was magnificent Sunday, picking up his 17th win and almost getting a complete game in beating the Seattle Mariners on his 27th birthday, 2-1. The only blemish for Harrison was a lead-off 8th inning home run by former Ranger Justin Smoak. Harrison’s only walk came in the 9th inning.
Harrison was the second big piece acquired on that fateful trade deadline day years ago, when young GM Jon Daniels acquired Harry along with Elvis Andrus from the Braves system for Mark Teixeira. He’s been a part of the Rangers every year, but it wasn’t until 2011 that Harrison turned a corner and became an effective starter. Harry said he read a book in the off-season that year that helped him change his mental approach on the mound. True or not, something worked. He won 14 games for the Rangers last year and has added 17 this year, with an outside shot at being a 20-game winner on the season.
This year, Harrison has arguably been the Rangers’ most consistent starter from beginning of the season to today. He’s not a strikeout pitcher at a little over 5.5 strikeouts per 9 innings. He gives up about a hit per inning. He also gets ground-outs. Lots of ground-outs. That leads to lots of double plays. With three more today, his total is now at 23 double plays induced in 2012.
All Matt Harrison does is give you innings and win. You’ll see his name near the top of the charts in all sorts of categories: Wins, WAR for pitchers, ERA, WL%, Innings Pitched, Complete Games, Shutouts, Home Runs Per 9 Innings (among the lowest rates), Adjusted ERA, Adjusted Pitching Runs, you get the idea.
Yet when the votes for the Cy Young Award get tabulated, Matt Harrison is almost guaranteed to finish no better than fifth to a group that includes the names Hernandez, Verlander, Weaver, Price and Sale. There’s an outside chance fellow Ranger Yu Darvish will get more votes than Harrison. It’s all a shame. One could make the case it’s harder for a pitcher like Harrison to reach the heights he has since he doesn’t have the raw stuff of those other pitchers mentioned, so he should be entitled to more votes. But it won’t happen.
In fact, here’s a new twist. It is also conceivable that Matt Harrison, the Rangers most consistent pitcher of 2012, will be no more than the #4 starter in post-season play. Yu Darvish has been pitching more and more like an ace his last five starts, so he could get the #1 nod. If the Rangers rotate between righthanders and lefthanders, Harrison would be either #2 or #4, and Derek Holland has started to look a little more like a solid #2 lately as well. The Rangers top winner a #4 playoff starter? It could happen.
The day before the July trade deadline a year ago, the Rangers were rumored to be hot and heavy in on Heath Bell, then of the Padres. A deal hadn’t been made yet, with speculation a trade could fall through. Just in case, Jon Daniels swung another deal, sending Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter to the Orioles for righthander Koji Uehara.
The Japanese import had been nails in the Birds bullpen all year, compiling a 1-1 record with 13 holds and a 1.72 ERA in 43 appearances. Opponents were hitting just .152 off Uehara and his strikeout to walk ratio was an astounding 62-8. When the Rangers added the Padres’ Mike Adams a day later, Rangers fans were salivating over a 7th, 8th and 9th inning featuring Uehara, Adams and Neftali Feliz.
Uehara, though, would be a bust for the Rangers. While some of his peripherals still were decent, he gave up 5 home runs in just 18 innings of work, helping explain his 4.00 ERA in a Texas uniform. The playoffs were even worse. In two appearances over the ALDS and ALCS, Uehara surrendered three home runs and five runs in just an inning and a third of work. The Rangers didn’t even use Uehara in the World Series.
His confidence shattered, Uehara spoke openly of preferring Baltimore to Texas and it appeared the Rangers’ front office tried hard to make a trade back to the Orioles a reality. It never came to fruition.
Instead, Uehara started 2012 in a Rangers uniform once again. The difference was, instead of being a trusted late-inning reliever, the man with the long sideburns was now brought into games for mop-up work: either big wins or big losses. That’s the way Ron Washington operates: Show me you can fill this role, then I’ll give you a better role to see if you can handle that.
Koji filled that role and was actually doing quite well in it. By June 2nd, his ERA was down to 1.33 over 19 appearances, but he was only credited with three holds over that time. Following a bad outing June 9th against the Giants, Uehara was placed on the DL, where he spent the next two and a half months with a strained rib cage.
When activated August 26th, Uehara was back in the mop-up role again. Now Wash started seeing something he hadn’t seen for awhile. Uehara, a righthander who had always handled lefthanded hitters well, started getting leftys out with regularity again. Last week, Koji was given another chance. With set-up man Mike Adams on the shelf with tightness in his back, Uehara was given the 8th inning again. Appearing in 4 consecutive games, Uehara allowed just one hit in 3 innings with 4 strikeouts, all with low pitch counts.
Sunday, with runners or the corners and two outs in the 9th inning of a 2-1 game, it was Uehara brought in to try to nail down the save, not overworked closer Joe Nathan or the usual second-best option Alexi Ogando. No, it was Koji Uehara, who proceeded to strike out the only batter he needed to face on four pitches to nail down his first save since 2010.
Koji Uehara gave up 11 home runs in the regular season a year ago and three in the playoffs. He’s only given up four in 2012. His strikeout to walk ratio is now 30-3, the Batting Average Against .184. Four weeks ago, the names being discussed for the post-season bullpen featured names like Michael Kirkman and Tanner Scheppers. Today the name Koji Uehara is prominent, which is what the Rangers were expecting when they traded for him a year ago.
Here’s a wrap-up of the week that was in Texas Rangers baseball. All stats listed are just for the previous week of play.
Rangers Record: 4-2
Overall: 79-54 (1st Place AL West) (+3)
Jalapeno Hot (Offense):David Murphy .500/.571/.944, 1 3b, 2 HR, 3 BB and 5 RBI
Adrian Beltre .478/.520/1.043, 4 2b, 3 HR, 7 RBI
Honorable Mention: Jurickson Profar became the youngest player in American League history to hit a home run in his first major league at bat. Sorry I can’t post it, but here’s the link to the video: http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=24424835&topic_id=17807232&c_id=mlb&tcid=vpp_copy_24424835&v=3
Jalapeno Hot (Pitching): Yu Darvish 1-0, 0.00 ERA in 7 IP, 10 K
Joe Nathan 3 Saves in 3 Opportunities, 6 K in 2.2 IP
Raspa Cold (Pitching): Matt Harrison (after 2 straight weeks in the Jalapeno Hot category) 0-1, 11.81 ERA 12 Hits in 5.1 IP
It isn’t often you can lose 2 1/2 games off your lead following a 4-2 week, but thanks in part to the Boston Red Sox deciding to totally lay down and play dead, the A’s managed a 7-0 week and gained that much ground on the Rangers. It should have been just 1 1/2 games, but an uninspired performance Saturday against the Tribe kept Texas from winning a game they should have won. This week will hopefully make up for it. Texas is on the road the entire week, first for four at Kansas City (they won the 1st game today 8-4), then for three at Tampa. The A’s and Angels are caught up in each other for three games to start the week at Oakland. The Angels follow up with three at home against the Tigers, while the A’s travel to Seattle for three. As much as I have considered the Angels to be the primary obstacle to a third straight Western Division Championship, the current standings call for me to hope LA wins the series, 2-1 while Texas goes 3-1 at KC. By week’s end, I think the Rangers have added either a half game or a game and a half to their lead over Oakland and either gain half a game or lose half a game on the Angels.
DVD SET WINNERS TO BA ANNOUNCED TOMORROW!
Ask your favorite Rangers blogger… well, ask the one you’re reading now… his impressions of Yu Darvish‘s rookie season and I’d have to say a bit of a disappointment. He has a winning record, but honestly, I expected more. In the pre-season, I was so stoked, I actually predicted a Darvish no-hitter in 2012. It hasn’t happened and I’m willing to bet it won’t happen. Most nights, Darvish has lost his no-hitter in the first inning. Tuesday night against the Rays, he lost it with the first batter. On the first pitch he threw.
By night’s end, though, it was Yu Darvish pitching one of his finest games in a Rangers uniform. For only the second time this season, Darvish threw goose eggs all night, seven innings strong. For the 8th time, he struck out ten or more batters. Coming into the game 3rd in the AL in the negative Walks category, Darvish walked only one Ray all night. He worked out of a couple of big-time jams in the early innings, but came on strong in the end, retiring 9 of the last 10 he faced. Darvish is a pitcher who gets better as he goes. A fellow blogger pointed out tonight that Darvish has a lower ERA in Innings 4-6 than he does in Innings 1-3. And he has a lower ERA after the 6th than in innings 4-6. Pretty darn impressive.
Texas only scored one run, but it was all they needed. Ian Kinsler led off the 4th with a home run over the left field fence and it held up, the Rangers first 1-0 win since June 13th against the Diamondbacks. It was also the first time the Rangers had won consecutive one-run games since they put together a string of three in a row in the last two games before and the first game after the All-Star break.
Mike Adams pitched the 8th and wasn’t as effective as Monday night, but he did strike out Evan Longoria with the tying run at 2nd and Mitch Moreland made a great stab on a hot shot down the first base line to get the last out of the inning and preserve the shutout. Joe Nathan was even nastier in the 9th than he was Monday night, getting all three Rays to strike out to end the game. The Rangers now have the edge in the season series, three games to two and have clinched the series win with the 1-0 victory. Better still, they kept the A’s from gaining any ground despite facing the weaker Indians while Texas squares off against the Rays.
This season has been a grind. The Rangers as a team, despite their record, have played very inconsistently all year. It’s been tough on me as a fan, seeing this team resemble some of the losing teams of yore even in victory. Adrian Beltre went through a major 40-game slump. Josh Hamilton was off, way off, for the entirety of June and July. Yet here we are, nearing the end of August, and the Rangers have the AL’s best record, Hamilton still leads all of baseball in RBI’s and the team is coming off two 1-run wins against a potential playoff opponent. Crunch time is getting closer. It’s about to get fun again.
ONLY 4 DAYS LEFT!!!
If you haven’t entered, there’s only 4 days left to submit your entry for a chance to win the 4-DVD set of the Essential Games of the Texas Rangers from A+E Home Entertainment/MLB Productions. The set contains the complete games of Nolan Ryan‘s 7th No-Hitter, the Rangers first ever playoff win against the Yankees in 1996 and the Rangers two AL Championship clinching wins in 2010 and 2011.
To enter, just submit the form below. Entry deadline is Friday 8/31/12. Winners will be drawn Tuesday 9/4/12. FIVE WINNERS IN ALL, so enter today! Only 1 entry per e-mail address please.