April 18, 2012; Boston, MA, USA; Texas Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler (5) makes a leaping catch during the second inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-US PRESSWIRE

Game 12: 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 Wednesday night’s game against the Boston Red Sox.

These were the moments that mattered…

1) Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One — The Rangers trailed the Sox 2-1 in the 4th when David Murphy opened the inning with a single. Josh Beckett then fell behind Mike Napoli with two straight balls. Having no other option, Beckett threw Napoli a fastball right down the middle, which he didn’t miss. It was promptly deposited onto the Monster, giving the Rangers the lead. More on Napoli in a bit.
2) Not Pretty, but EffectiveDerek Holland cruised through most of his night, but started the 5th by walking Kelly Shoppach. He got two outs after that, but then walked Mike Aviles to put the tying run in scoring position. Dustin Pedroia stepped to the plate, but Holland got him to pop up to end the inning and the Boston threat.
3) More Trouble, More Dancing — Two innings later, Kelly Shoppach hit a 1-out double to right and once again represented the tying run. Darnell McDonald ground out to short and Nick Punto struck out. That was the end of Holland’s night as he left with the narrow lead preserved.
4) Boston ‘Pen is a Mess — Texas opened up the game in the 8th. Josh Hamilton hit a single and moved up on a passed ball. Adrian Beltre was intentionally walked and Nelson Cruz was unintentionally walked. With a lefty on the mound, Ron Washington opted to pinch hit with Craig Gentry. Gentry battled in his at-bat and wound up taking a pitch off of his foot. This scored the Rangers’ 4th run, which proved to be the game winner.

Also of note…

  • As mentioned above, Holland cruised for most of the night. He made a mistake to Kevin Youkilis, which resulted in two runs, but other than that pitched seven solid innings.
  • Josh Beckett takes way too much time between pitches. I don’t know what he’s doing out there, but some of us have better things to do than watch him standing around.
  • Napoli is really, really heating up. He’s homered in three consecutive games and drove in four of tonight’s six runs. Last year he got hot mid-season and never cooled off, so we’ll see how long he can  maintain this level of play. If he and Jamilton are clicking like this for an extended period, it’s going to be a fun year in Texas.
  • Speaking of Jamilton, he took a walk in tonight’s game. This is only significant because it is his first in over 50 plate appearances to start the season. He also collected three more hits.
  • Michael Young did not play in tonight’s game because of some back soreness. The Rangers indicated that it wasn’t serious, though you could probably read into the fact that he didn’t pinch hit in the 8th with the bases loaded…if you’re the sort of person that likes to read into things. Mitch Moreland DH’d and Brandon Snyder played 1B.
  • Snyder didn’t have a great night at the plate and got killed on Twitter for it. He struck out in his first three at-bats and hit into an inning ending double play in the 8th. He did have a chance to redeem himself at the end of the game.
  • The bottom of the 9th was something of an adventure. Joe Nathan came in, even though it wasn’t a save situation. He walked Cody Ross, then struck out David Ortiz. Beltre made an uncharacteristic throwing error and Cruz got a bad jump on a fly-ball, which scored a run and put men on the corners. Jarrod Saltalamacchia PH as the tying run and hit a screaming line-drive to first base with the runners going. Snyder was in the right place at the right time as he snagged it and stepped on first for the game ending double play.
  • The Rangers are doing everything about as well as they can be done at the moment. They’ve won their first four series, sweeping the last two. Detroit will be a true test, as they face quality pitching and two of the more dangerous hitters in the American League. I would probably be satisfied with taking only one or two from the Tigers, but I do hope for more.

Tomorrow night’s game starts at 6:05 Arlington time and can be seen on FSSW. Yu Darvish is expected to make his third 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: Adrian Beltre Boston Red Sox Brandon Snyder Craig Gentry David Murphy Derek Holland Joe Nathan Josh Beckett Michael Young Mike Napoli Nelson Cruz Texas Rangers

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