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 Sunday afternoon’s game against the Minnesota Twins.
These were the moments that mattered…
1) It Goes Up & It Goes Out — Mike Napoli broke the scoreless tie in the 5th inning with a shot to left field that took about a second and a half to find the seats. Even though Neftali Feliz gave the lead back in the next half inning, this run would prove crucial later in the game.
2) Walk This Way — In the 8th, with the Rangers down 3 to 1, Ian Kinsler took three straight balls in a 1-2 count and drew a walk. Elvis Andrus followed by flexing a triple over the head of the right fielder, which scored Kinsler and brought the Rangers within one run.
3) Way, Way Back — On the very next pitch Josh Hamilton hit an absolute bomb to right-center field. This put the Rangers ahead for the rest of the afternoon.
4) Tit for Tat, Joe at Bat — With the lead secured, Mike Adams relieved Robbie Ross in the 8th. Denard Span started the inning off with a single and Jamey Carroll attempted to move him to second with a bunt. Unfortunately for Carroll, he popped the bunt up to Adams. As Span scrambled back, Adams threw to Kinsler on the run. The throw appeared to be in time, but the umpire disagreed. Though he wasn’t called out, the runner was left at first, which set up Joe Mauer‘s inning-ending double play three pitches later.
Also of note…
- Feliz had a good outing, even if he only pitched 5+ innings. On the day he gave up 5 hits, 3 runs, 1 HR, 2 walks, and struck out 3. Perhaps the biggest flaw in his game was his ball-to-strike ratio (42 balls, 51 strikes). In the future, it would pay to be a little more aggressive in the zone.
- Clete Thomas‘ homerun was set up by a poor throw on a stolen base attempt. In the 5th inning, Chris Parmelee struck out as Josh Willingham broke for second base. Yorvit Torrealba seemed to have plenty of time, but rushed the throw to the shortstop side of the bag. Willingham was safe and came around to score on the homerun, which came with two out.
- Thomas was involved in two other big plays, though only one really affected the outcome of the game.
An inning after his homerun he attempted to field a Michael Young double in the corner. He bobbled the ball and Dave Anderson took a risk by sending Adrian Beltre from third to Home. Thomas recovered and Beltre was thrown out easily at the plate.
In the 8th, Andrus’ triple sailed just over Thomas’ head and careened off the wall. This set up Jamilton’s game winning long-ball on the very next pitch.
- Speaking of Jamilton’s long-ball, it came on a first pitch fastball. That’s the one pitch that you shouldn’t throw to the lefty slugger, but I doubt you’ll hear too many Rangers fans complain.
- Napoli hit his first homerun of the year, which was only his third hit of 2012. You’d like to see him come around offensively because this line-up looks a lot different when he’s at his most dangerous. We’ll see if he warms up a little bit more in Boston and Detroit.
- Ross has gotten two wins in just as many days and looks almost automatic to this point. Ron Washington has used him in big spot after big spot and he’s handled all of them. I’m going to stick with the nickname Bulldog and see if that catches on.
- Adams and Joe Nathan also pitched well out of the ‘pen. After falling behind Justin Morneau, Nathan struck him out swinging and got the next two hitters on three pitches. That was his first save against his old ballclub and third as a Ranger. For the first time this year, he looked good on the second of back-to-back appearances.
- Today is the 65th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier. As MLB does every April 15th, all players wore number 42 in honor of Robinson’s achievements on and off the field.
- Coming into this series, the Rangers had won only one game at Target Field in its brief history. With the sweep they quadruple their win total in what has been something of a house of horrors for them in the past.
- The Angels will play the Yankees tonight on ESPN, if you’re interested in doing a little bit of scoreboard watching.
The Rangers have an off-day tomorrow before starting a 2-game series in Boston on Tuesday. The game will start at 6:10 Arlington time and Colby Lewis will likely take the mound for Texas.
Press on, Rangers fans.