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 Saturday afternoon’s game against the Minnesota Twins.
These were the moments that mattered…
1) Darvish K’s Carroll — In the 2nd inning, with the score knotted at 1, Denard Span hit an infield single to load the bases. The Twins had already tied the game with an unearned run and Jamey Carroll stepped to the plate with a chance to make it a big inning. It wasn’t meant to be, however, as Yu Darvish struck Carroll out swinging.
2) Working Into & Out of a Jam — Darvish seemed to be working around a lead-off double in the 5th inning, but he followed two quick outs with back-to-back walks. Once again he faced bases loaded with two outs, but this time he got Ryan Doumit to swing through strike 3.
3) Robbie Ross to the Rescue — Darvish looked to make it through six innings today, but Danny Valencia hit a ball past a diving Michael Young to start the inning, which eventually allowed the Twins to tie the game. With two outs in the 6th, Darvish hit Carroll and walked Joe Mauer on four pitches to load the bases. Ross was summoned from the bullpen and Justin Morneau fouled out to third to keep Minnesota from taking the lead.
4) Jamilton Legs One Out — The score didn’t stay tied for long as Brandon Snyder led off the 7th with a single. Elvis Andrus walked on four pitches, then Josh Hamilton hit a groundball to second. Hustling all the way, Jamilton avoided a double play and moved Snyder to third. This allowed the inning to continue and the Rangers took the lead for good two pitches later.
Also of note…
- Darvish looked okay in his second Major League start. He established his fastball early and never had anything resembling Monday’s 42 pitch inning. His ratio of balls-to-strikes wasn’t exceptional (42-60) and I felt uneasy through most of his outing. The best thing we can say about Darvish so far is that he knows how to pitch through adversity.
- The Twins loaded the bases in the 2nd, 5th, and 6th, but never managed to bring any of those runners in. I’m not sure if this says more about Darvish or the Minnesota offense, but the Twins had a runner on third in six different innings and only managed to score twice. Take that as you will.
- Young manned the hot corner this afternoon and showed why Adrian Beltre‘s defense is such a necessity. In the 2nd, Young let a ball skip through his glove, which allowed Alexi Casilla to reach on an error. In the 6th, a ball skipped off of his glove and into left field. Those plays accounted for both of the Twins runs and both times the pitching staff was forced to work a little bit harder to recover.
- Two balls got past Mike Napoli while Darvish was on the mount. One nearly led to a run as Darvish tagged a charging Doumit at the plate with inches to spare. The other advanced a runner that eventually tied the game.
- Snyder made his first start as a Ranger due to Mitch Moreland having some kind of problem with his tooth. Snyder went 3-for-4 with a run and made a nifty grab to save a double play in the 2nd inning.
- I’ve counted at least three errant throws from Andrus in the last two games. One in today’s game led to an out not being made, as Snyder was unable to slap a leaping, swiping tag on the runner.
- In the 3rd inning Jamilton hit a homerun to right that probably still hasn’t come down. I don’t know if I believe in the “contract year” theory, but Jamilton’s gotten off to a blistering start on both sides of the ball.
- Nick Blackburn, the Twins starting pitcher, seemed to be cruising into the 6th inning. He got one out and gave up a single before coming up lame on a pitch to David Murphy. After a brief discussion with the trainer, he left the game and was replaced by Brian Duensing. Blackburn had only thrown 79 pitches to that point, so be probably could have pitched at least through the 7th if not for the injury.
- Ross looked great and continued to show his veteran calm on the mound. So far the kid looks like an absolute bulldog (competitively, not physically).
- Joe Nathan came in to finish the game, though it wasn’t a save situation. He gave up a single and a double before retiring the next three batters. Even though he didn’t give up any runs, his old ballclub was making solid contact. If his inability to miss bats continues, it may be cause for concern.
- With their third win ever in the history of Target Field, the Rangers guarantee a series win in Minnesota. Hopefully this fortune continues through the rest of this 9-game road trip.
- Former Ranger C.J. Wilson threw 6 strong innings for the Angels this afternoon, giving his new club their third win of the young season. Nothing like Phil Hughes to help a team break out of an offensive slump.
The Rangers go for the sweep against the Twins tomorrow at 1:10 on FSSW. Neftali Feliz will look to build on the positive results of his first Major League start.
Press on, Rangers fans.