I’ve heard it said that the outcome of any given game comes down to about 4 plays. I’ll do my best to pinpoint those plays from Tuesday night’s game against the Seattle Mariners.
These were the moments that mattered…
- 4-6-3 is the Only Way to Be — Neftali Feliz began his first Major League start by walking Chone Figgins, just as Yu Darvish did the night before. Two batters later he walked Ichiro. With one out and the Mariners threatening, he coaxed a double play ball out of Justin Smoak. The night got easier from there.
- Wild Pitch Proves Pivotal — In the 2nd inning, Adrian Beltre got hung up between second and third on a groundball. He managed to keep the rundown going long enough for Michael Young to move up to second. Blake Beavan threw a wild pitch soon after, which allowed Young to move to third and eventually score on an infield single by David Murphy. That was the game’s only run.
- More Hamilton Heroics — Jesus Montero led off the 5th with a single, only the second Seattle hit of the night. Feliz got two more outs before Munenori Kawasaki hit a sinking line-drive to center field. Josh Hamilton managed to make yet another great defensive play, a sliding catch to end the inning. No telling what might have happened if it had gotten past him.
- Greg Maddux is Smiling Somewhere — In the 7th inning, with two out and a man on third, Miguel Olivo hit a little dribbler to the right of the mound. Feliz pursued it and almost overran it before recovering and throwing the catcher out. Greg Maddux worked with pitchers on fielding in the spring and through five games it has paid off.
Also of note…
- Feliz looked great in his first Major League start. He allowed no runs on 4 hits, went 7 innings, struck out 4, and walked 2. His change-up and slider were very effective, almost to the point that his fastball was a secondary pitch. He proved tonight that he can be a starter and he did so with almost no run support from his offense. Fantastic showing by Feliz.
- That being said, keep this start in perspective. It is only one of about thirty and not all will go so well. With both Darvish last night and Feliz tonight, it’s important not to overreact.
- As I mentioned above, the Rangers only managed one run tonight, but it was all they needed. That one run came about because of smart base-running by Michael Young. First he took second on a rundown, then moved to third on a wild pitch. After last night’s onslaught of long balls, the Rangers used their legs to show that they can beat you with more than just power.
- Of course, the Rangers did have a few more scoring opportunities that weren’t taken advantage of. At least four times they ended an inning with a runner on third. Not especially fine situational hitting.
- In the 7th inning, Beavan’s final pitch of the night struck Mike Napoli on the side of his batting helmet. Some said that it was an off-speed pitch, but I thought that the radar gun read 92 mph. Either way, Napoli appeared to be fine and stayed in the game. Hopefully he doesn’t wake up tomorrow with concussion symptoms.
- Mike Adams pitched another scoreless inning and Joe Nathan locked down his second save as a Ranger. The bullpen has been pretty untouchable so far.
- Several times throughout the game the camera looked into the Ranger dugout. Each time they spotted Yu Darvish, he was laughing and carrying on with his teammates. Even in the 9th, with Joe Nathan closing out the game, he seemed to be encouraging Feliz or possibly heckling him. Either way, there seemed to be no thought of his rough outing from the night before. Just a guy enjoying the game.
- I noticed last night that Munenori Kawasaki, the Mariners’ Japanese middle infielder, could be mistaken for Ichiro from a distance. He has a similar build and batting stance. I wonder if his game is at all modeled after Ichiro’s.
That’s about all there is to say about that. It’s good to get this win and ensure that the series is at least a split. Colby Lewis will be on the mound tomorrow night at 7:05 as Texas tries to take the 3rd game of this 4 game series.
Press on, Rangers fans.