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Game 16: 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 Sunday’s getaway game against the Detroit Tigers.

These were the moments that mattered…

1) Emulating Adrian — With Adrian Beltre being out for (hopefully only) a few days, Alberto Gonzalez started the game at the hot corner. Fortunately, Beltre’s glove wasn’t missed, as Gonzalez back-handed a Miguel Cabrera chopper down the line in the 1st inning. With Austin Jackson at 2nd, the back-up infielder saved an early run for his pitcher.
2) Same Stuff, Different Day — We all remember Cabrera being thrown out at home by Nelson Cruz in the ALCS. Though it wasn’t at the plate, we saw a very similar play this afternoon and got the exact same result. In the 3rd, Cabrera hit a ball to deep right that bounced off the wall. Cruz was able to gather it quickly and threw an absolute strike to Elvis Andrus, who Cabrera was unable to slide around. The Tigers had just tied the game on a wild pitch, so it was great to see the Rangers shut their momentum down right there.
3) Washball — In the 8th, with Texas down by a run, Andrus charged to 2nd on a ball in the dirt. Alex Avila scrambled to throw him out, but the ball sailed into center field and Andrus alertly took 3rd. Josh Hamilton then came through with a sacrifice fly that tied the game. Ron Washington always preaches doing what the game asks you to do and that’s exactly what we saw in the 8th.
4) Four Guys Missed It — No one scored in the 9th, so we went into extra innings. In the 11th, the Rangers managed to load the bases with nobody out and Gonzalez stepped to the plate with the chance to drive in the go ahead run. He immediately laid down a suicide squeeze and Cruz came in to score. Tigers manager Jim Leyland argued that the ball should have been foul because it hit Gonzalez’s knee. Reply indicated that Leyland was right, but none of the umpires saw it and the call stood. It proved to be the winning run.

Also of note…

  • Colby Lewis looked good in this game, but the Rangers couldn’t put up much run support. Lewis threw 7 innings, gave up 7 hits and 2 runs, striking out 2 and walking none. His obligatory homerun of the game went to Brennan Boesch in the 6th, but it was a solo shot.
  • Jamilton went deep in the 1st inning, his 7th long-ball of the year. All told he amassed 3 hits and a sac fly.
  • Jamilton was also in the middle of a really weird play in the 6th. After singling, he took 2nd on what appeared to be a hit and run. After the first three pitches to Cruz, Avila threw the ball back to the mound and it skipped off of the pitcher’s glove. Everybody watched it roll for a moment, so Jamilton took off for 3rd. He made it easily and the Rangers had a chance with only one out. Unfortunately, Cruz struck out on a pitch 6-8 inches inside and Napoli flied out.
  • Mitch Moreland looks utterly hopeless at the plate right now. He was brought in as a pinch hitter after Gonzalez’s controversial bunt and he bounced the second pitch he saw to the third baseman. It was a double play that scored no runs. Moreland is currently hitting .156 and it’s hard to argue that he’s not the weak link in this line-up.
  • Cruz also looks a little out of synch. He’s a streaky hitter and right now he’s just a tick off the mark on a lot of pitches he should be crushing. I expect him to start clicking very soon, so look out.
  • After pitching a scoreless 10th, Robbie Ross got the win, which was his third on this 9-game road trip. If my math is correct, that puts Ross on pace for 30 wins! Alexi Ogando and Mike Adams also pitched a scoreless inning each and Joe Nathan nailed down the save.
  • The Rangers return to Arlington with an 8-1 record on the road. The wins themselves are impressive, but even more so if you consider where they got them. Target Field and Comerica have been tough on Texas in recent years and Fenway is never an easy place to play. This trip was as much a statement as can be made so early in the season.
  • Pudge Rodriguez will announce his retirement tomorrow at 2 PM. The press conference should be live on FSSW and the various local sports talk radio stations. Pudge will throw out the ceremonial first pitch and be honored before tomorrow night’s game as well.

The game itself will start at 6:05 Arlington time. Due to the Yankees being rained out tonight, the Rangers will face C.C. Sabathia on an extra day of rest. Derek Holland will take the hill for Texas.

Press on, Rangers fans.

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

Topics: Alberto Gonzalez, Alex Avila, Colby Lewis, Detroit Tigers, Elvis Andrus, Ivan (Pudge) Rodriguez, Josh Hamilton, Miguel Cabrera, Mitch Moreland, Nelson Cruz, Robbie Ross, Texas Rangers

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