Apr 13, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA: Texas Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus (1) jumps over Minnesota Twins shortstop Jamey Carroll (8) to throw the ball to first base to complete the double play in the eighth inning at Target Field. The Rangers won 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE

Game 8: Moments that Mattered


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 Friday’s game against the Minnesota Twins.

These were the moments that mattered…

1) Special K — In the 2nd inning the Twins scored the first run of the game on a Danny Valencia sacrifice fly. Trevor Plouffe followed by doubling to left, which put men at second and third with two out. Luke Hughes stepped to the plate, but Matt Harrison struck him out to avoid a big inning.
2) Lucky Bounce — The score remained 1-0 until the 4th inning. Elvis Andrus led off with a single and Josh Hamilton hit a come-backer past the mound, which bounced off of Anthony Swarzak‘s glove. Had the pitcher not interfered, it likely would have been a double play, but the second baseman was unable to recover and both Andrus and Hamilton were safe. The Rangers netted 3 runs in the inning, which was all of the scoring they needed.
3) The Harry Special — Harrison came back for the 8th with 99 pitches on the night. Jamey Carroll led off the inning with a single, but Joe Mauer quickly ground into a double play to erase any chance of a comeback.
4) Elvis Recovers Ogando’s GaffeAlexi Ogando relieved Harrison in the 9th and hit the first batter he faced. Ryan Doumit followed with a single and Valencia hit a come-backer that deflected off of Ogando’s glove. The pitcher recovered and fired a short-hop that Andrus managed to pick out of the dirt. Without Elvis’ quick hands, the ball may have skipped into the outfield and completely derailed the 9th inning.

Also of note…

  • Harrison continues to turn out fine performance after fine performance. He gave up only 1 run through 8 innings, induced two double plays, struck out four, and threw first-pitch strikes to 20 of the 31 batters he faced. Good night for the young lefty.
  • Andrus went 3-for-4 with a double, two singles, and a run scored. I noticed in Spring Training that Elvis looked more comfortable at the plate, but he hasn’t done much offensively since the season began. It would be nice to see him get hot and stay hot as the Rangers travel to Boston and Detroit next week.
  • Mike Napoli could use a hot streak of his own, but has yet to find anything at the plate this season. He did hit a sharp single in tonight’s game, but also struck out twice. Many forget conveniently ignore the fact that Napoli got off to a slow start last season before coming on strong in the 2nd half, so maybe he just needs to work himself into a rhythm.
  • Ian Kinsler hit a homerun in the 7th, giving him four for the young season.
  • Ogando came in to save the 9th and wasn’t very sharp. After hitting Josh Willingham and giving up a single, he almost threw the ball away on what could have been a double play. He did get the save, though, so it isn’t that big of a deal.
  • Apparently Ron Washington wanted to give Joe Nathan the night off after pitching four times in the opening home-stand. If the situation calls for it, expect to see Nathan in tomorrow’s game.
  • Tonight’s win was only the second for the Rangers since Target Field opened two years ago. Thankfully, this is the club’s only trip to Minnesota in 2012.

The Rangers continue this 3-game set tomorrow afternoon at 12:05. It will air on Fox proper, not FSSW. Yu Darvish is expected to make his second Major League start.

Press on, Rangers fans.

(Leave a comment or find me on Twitter @BleacherSeatsTX. As always, thanks to Baseball Reference for their invaluable resources.)

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Tags: Alexi Ogando Elvis Andrus Ian Kinsler Josh Hamtilon Matt Harrison Mike Napoli Texas Rangers