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 Thursday afternoon’s game against the Seattle Mariners.
These were the moments that mattered…
1) Number 2 Comes Through — With Elvis Andrus taking the day off, Michael Young batted second instead of fifth. Young didn’t waste an early opportunity to drive in a run after Ian Kinsler led off with a single and stole second base. Young hit a single to center field, scoring Kinsler and giving the Rangers the early lead.
2) MY HR — In the 5th inning, with the Rangers nursing a 1-run lead, Ian Kinsler singled to center field, giving Young another chance to come through. This time he elevated something into the jet stream in right field. The ball carried over Ichiro’s head and into the first row, giving Young two more RBIs for the day.
3) Punch for Punch — The Mariners added a run in both the 6th and 7th innings and were starting to creep back into the game. Yorvit Torrealba led off the bottom of the 7th with a double, but Alberto Gonzalez failed to lay down a sacrifice bunt and struck out. Craig Gentry hit a ground-ball to second, moving Torrealba to third with two outs. Kinsler came through with a double, which scored Torrealba and proved to be the winning run.
4) The Nolan Ryan Inning — Derek Holland came back for the 8th, even though he was over 100 pitches. I wondered at the time whether Holland had enough left to get through the inning. He got the first out before giving up a double and was relieved by Koji Uehara, who induced two straight fly-balls to end the inning. Since arriving in Texas, Ryan has preached starting pitchers going just a little bit longer in games and we saw an example of that today.
Also of note…
- Young hit from the 2-hole this afternoon and responded by going 3-for-4 with 4 RBIs. I’d like to see Young hitting behind Kinsler on a regular basis, but Ron Washington seems content to stick with Andrus at #2 and Young at #5 and Wash’s vote trumps mine.
- Young and Kinsler were involved in all 4 of the Rangers’ scoring plays. Other guys (like Mike Napoli and Nelson Cruz) need to start stepping up. The team is 5-for-25 with runners in scoring position since Monday’s homerun derby. Situational hitting will be important if this team expects to keep winning games.
- Torrealba had a good day offensively, going 2-for-4 with an infield single and a double. As mentioned above, he scored the winning run.
- Gentry had a less than stellar afternoon. In the 5th inning he attempted a sacrifice bunt that resulted in the lead runner being thrown out at second base. He then attempted a steal and was thrown out for the first time in his career. He actually beat the throw, but his momentum carried him off the bag. Kinsler followed by hitting a single that likely would have scored the speedy center fielder.
- Speaking of sacrifice bunts, Lincoln Floyd of SDI shared his thoughts on them this morning, arguing that there is almost never a time when giving away an out is statistically beneficial to winning the game. As if on cue, the Rangers attempted (and failed) to execute two sac bunts this afternoon. For better or worse, Wash likes small ball and old school thinking.
- Uehara made his second appearance of the young season and once again pitched well. After replacing Holland, he managed to keep Chone Figgins from scoring. Remember these early innings of his later in 2012, Rangers fans. Koji will eventually have a bad outing and it will be important then to not all freak out at once. The man has value and he’s shown it so far.
- The Rangers drew 31,513 fans for today’s get-away game, which put them at over 250,000 through the first 7 games. Not a bad showing so early in the year.
- In the world of early season scoreboard watching, the Angels lost to the Twins after leading them by 6 runs in the 5th inning. The Angels now sit at 2 & 4, but it’s a little bit early to count them out of the race.
Despite losing last night’s game late, the Rangers came back to win the series 3 games to 4. They begin a 9 game road trip tomorrow night in Minnesota. Matt Harrison is the probable starter.
Press on, Rangers fans.